Del Kathryn Barton
Within My Pleats, 2015
oil on canvas
signed, dated and inscribed with title ‘del kathryn barton 2015/- within my pleats –‘ (lower centre) and further signed, dated and inscribed with title ‘title – within my/pleats/del kathryn barton/2015’ (on the reverse)
Private collection from 2015 and thence by descent
Del Kathryn Barton - the highway is a disco, ARNDT, Singapore, 31 October - 6 December 2015
Michael Young, Del Kathryn Barton – The Highway is a Disco, A3, Singapore, 2015, illus.54-61
Within My Pleats was first exhibited in the highway is a disco, a 2015 solo exhibition by Del Kathryn Barton at Arndt in Singapore. The exhibition brought together paintings, digital collages, video and sculptural works, all of which explored Barton’s perennial themes of female sexuality and its association with maternity and fertility in nature.
Within My Pleats depicts three of Barton’s distinctive figures, her alien-women with enlarged heads and multiple breasts. The figures in the painting are dressed contradictorily – at once modestly and provocatively, wearing shawls and scarves but with their breasts proudly exposed.
Rendered in meticulous detail with finely executed dots and triangles, leaves and flowers along with a backdrop that resembles snakeskin or scales, the impression of harmony between Barton’s figures and the natural world exists.
Del Kathryn Barton has twice won the Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney: first, with a self-portrait reflecting on motherhood, You are what is most beautiful about me, a self-portrait with Kell and Arella (2008); and, second, with a portrait of actor Hugo Weaving, hugo (2013). In 2017, a major survey, The highway is a disco was held at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, that reflected upon the themes of motherhood, womanhood and death in her paintings and installations. The exhibition featured an accompanying monograph written by Julie Ewington. In 2022, Barton released with critical acclaim her first feature film, Blaze.
Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
One of Australia’s most popular contemporary artists, Del Kathryn Barton is best known for her distinctive style of painting with linear, exaggerated figures and a psychedelic palette. Born in Sydney in 1972, Barton began exhibiting in 1991 and developed a reputation as a skilled draughtswoman with a particular knack for both human and animal portraiture. She has since expanded her practice to installations, textiles, printmaking and short films, across which she has explored sexuality, motherhood, and nature.
As Dr Nicola Teffer wrote on Barton ahead of Know My Name, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2020-21): “Barton’s experience of motherhood had a profound impact on her art. The fecund energy of pregnancy and intense emotions of maternity fed into personal and autobiographical imagery that for Barton was a way of understanding her own feelings about love, relationships and the connection with others.”
Barton has twice won the Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney: first, with a self-portrait reflecting on motherhood, You are what is most beautiful about me, a self-portrait with Kell and Arella (2008); and, second, with a portrait of actor Hugo Weaving, hugo (2013).
In 2012, Barton held a major solo exhibition inspired by an Oscar Wilde story, The Nightingale and the Rose, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, which was restaged and toured across Australia (2012-19). Off the back of this exhibition, she produced into an acclaimed 2015 short film which was released at major film festivals around the world. In 2017, Barton received a major survey, The highway is a disco, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, that reflected upon the themes of motherhood, womanhood and death in a collection of paintings and installations.