Walking along Park Avenue in the spring of 2012, New Yorkers could not help but noticing the monumental, intriguing, hovering-in-the-air sculptures. Lining the Park Avenue mall from East 53rd to 67th streets stood 9 of master sculptor Rafael Barrios (1947-)'s delightfully colorful creations, invited by The Fund of Park Avenue, The Park Avenue Malls and the City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation. This consortium has been selecting and presenting works by celebrated artists in New York's public spaces since 2000, among them: Will Ryman, Robert Indiana, Manolo Valdes, Tom Otterness. Louise Nevelson, Yoshitomo Nara and Fernando Botero.
Barrios was the second Latin American artist to be invited to exhibit on Park Avenue after Fernando Botero. All 9 monumental sculptures in the exhibition were snatched up by collectors within one month of the opening.
Recognized as one of the most innovative contemporary Latin American artists, Barrios’ work has been characterized by the alteration of the observer’s perceptive mental state, manipulating form with the intention of dislocating our convictions about what we believe we see. Barrios creates a territory where the laws of gravity seem not to exist, one in which objects rise freely over each other; where volume appears balanced in space. In doing so, he confounds our normative beliefs about what is possible and questions our ties to that which is terrestrial. Volume is virtually modeled and modified in form, depending on distance, shifting with the position of the observer and the changes in light throughout the day.
Image credit: REFAEL BARRIOS: THE PARK AVENUE PROJECT, catalogue with an essay by Robert C. Morgan. Page 31.