Liam Barr was born in Scotland in 1966 and immigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1974. Following a period of travel overseas, Barr settled in Perth, W.A. where he trained and worked as graphic designer before returning to New Zealand in 2004 to further develop his artistic career.
A recurring theme in Barr’s work is the idea of symbolism reflecting an aura of pathos, displacement and insight into contemporary New Zealand life.
Barr’s paintings have been shown in public exhibitions – ‘Tears For Tane’s Children’ at the Whangarei Art Museum and ‘Mind Games, An Exhibition of Surrealism in Aotearoa’ at Hastings City Art Gallery.
Barr’s latest exhibition ‘Avian‘ saw him move toward a more contemporary image set , offering an alternative to the historical narrative works for which he is known. ‘Avian’ is a body of work cohesive in a central theme – stripped back in terms of colour palette, geographical location and other elements that have made up his folio to date. Barr reached out to a spiritual connectedness – unrelated to religion – leaning towards a DNA coding inherent the forgotten strands of essential mankind.
‘Lore & Behold‘, Barr’s first solo show at ARTIS, sought to define the New Zealand experience in a series of narrative paintings depicting stories of whalers, sailors and early pioneering visitors to this land. Images drew reference from the fictitious to the subjectively factual, weaving stories punctuated with symbolism and iconography to lay bare the stoicism and foibles of a fledgling colonial psyche rapidly assembling through historical events.
Whilst referencing a mood of 19th and early 20th century artworks, Barr’s paintings reinterpreted and imbued the romantic essence of the historical context in a contemporary fashion. Irony and satire were employed to embellish and dramatise the narrative whilst the richness and subtlety of the ‘fine art oil painter’ drew the viewer in to the atmosphere of the era.