• 6

    Noam Gonick

  • 2

    Mark Sultan

  • 3

    Sure Kidd

  • 4

    bill bissett

  • 5

    Madonna

Art

Wilford Barrington

Posted by Alex Moshakis,

Canadian artist Wilford Barrington (b.1981) draws people how we really see them, which is not with one face but with several. His works are fluid and alive with movement. They invite you to look and look again, and are revelatory in how accurately they capture the sitter, both aesthetically and emotionally. In this way his pencil is a microscope, magnifying and revealing.

The problem with talking to Wilford is this: No matter how articulate he is, or how interesting, it’s difficult to wipe clear thoughts that being in his presence is the art equivalent of lying on a psychologist’s couch…

It’s Nice That: Have you always drawn from life?

Wilford Barrington: When I was younger I became very interested in it, and I’ve placed an emphasis on working in the same way ever since. I did experiment a lot with working from photographs, but 
I found the process to be far less interesting.

INT: Because the actual experience is lacking. You don’t get to see the various sides of a person…

WB: Yeah, it’s one instant, which means you’re just copying. You can take liberties and employ different styles, but I enjoy looking at a living person, having someone in front of me 
to react to.

INT: Can you tell us a bit about how and when you started drawing in the way you do?

WB: I can think back to a moment when I drew a portrait 
of my father. I was painting in oils at the time, and he sat for me for about eight hours, perfectly still. At the end of sitting, when I looked back at the painting, it was not only very muddy, but was also just a picture of a really grumpy-looking man.

INT: He wasn’t enjoying himself?

WB: He was not enjoying himself at all, and it really came 
out in the portrait. The whole experience was completely disenfranchised. After that I realised that there are certain truths in the people in front of you, and that to reveal them you have to let them be as they are, in some cases guide them. For example, if I want to catch a smile on someone’s face, I need to make them smile more than once. A kind of mirroring goes on when you face someone, which I’m conscious of and use to coax out expressions.

INT: How do people react to being drawn in this way?

WB: A few weeks ago, I did a portrait of the art collector, Sue Kidd. She knew my work, knew what she was getting herself into, and agreed to sit for me. When her kids saw the drawing they told her she looked scowling and old. She didn’t like the drawing very much, although I think that was down to the way her kids reacted.

INT: Something we’re very conscious of is the ability we have now to curate our online selves. We’re able to present the one view we consider to be our best. But you reveal all sides of your sitter, which must be difficult for some people to take…

WB: We’re all very caught up in this. There are photographs on the internet of myself that I wish weren’t around. There’s one of me wearing a Goofy cap from about six years ago, and I just hate the way I’m dressed. But the reactions to my drawings depend on how much liberty I take, and how abstract the portraits become. The more abstract, the larger the scope for people to say: “Well, you know, that’s just his style, that’s just the way it looks, it’s kind of cool and quirky.” The subtler drawings are definitely more difficult for people.

I find it actually has a lot to do with how old the person is, or whether they’re a man or a woman. One of the things you’re taught when learning classical methods for portraiture is to remove blemishes, to smooth the surface. Even with painting, the palette for men and women has always been very different. With women you’d only use red and white. With men, you’d use yellow, because they’re supposedly out working in the sun. The emphasis was to embellish, to make a glossed-over portrait of somebody, perhaps to please a wealthy client. But I’ve never been interested in that sort of thing. Otto Dix is a great example of somebody who fearlessly portrayed people in a brutally honest way.

INT: And at a time when there could have been massive comeuppance…

WB: Exactly. He ended up painting these pastoral landscape pictures because he was so afraid of the Nazis getting hold 
of him.

INT: Which is something you probably don’t have hanging over your head…

WB: Yes, luckily.

To read the rest of this piece, please purchase the issue here.

Portrait8

Posted by Alex Moshakis

Alex originally joined It’s Nice That as a designer but moved into editorial and oversaw the It’s Nice That magazine from Issue Six (July 2011) to Issue Eight (March 2012) before moving on that summer.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Christophniemann-esgibtnichtgutes-itsnicethat-list

    My colleague Emily Gosling wrote a great piece for the latest issue of our Printed Pages magazine in which she called out the patent nudity of the emperor by saying that in reality, the creative process can be pretty dull to witness. Obviously that’s not to say that we want to see slick creative work with all traces of the artist removed; in fact in our digitally-defined age we delight in being able to see the spirit of the image-maker writ large.

  2. Kristoffersonsanpablo-itsnicethat-list

    If you like Eric Yahnker – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – then you’re really going to enjoy the work of Kristofferson San Pablo, a Filipino artist now based in Los Angeles. His work takes an ironic look at popular culture, lampooning it for its absurdity, but also acknowledging its utter infectiousness. Kristofferson’s strange pencil drawings and luxurious paintings eroticise Simpsons characters, destroy our lust for celebrities and ridicule the stars of reality television, making sure that when surveying the modern world our tongues are kept firmly in cheek.

  3. List-itsnicethatthe-vinyl-factor_supersymmetry-(experience)_-ryoji-ikeda_-2015_photo-credit-jana-chiello_1_low

    Few artists can take particle physics and maths as a medium; even fewer can do so while attracting a crowd often as big on dance music as they are fine art. However, Ryoji Ikeda is a rare soul indeed, and we’re very excited about his current show at London’s Brewer Street Car Park in Soho. The work of the artist-composer is brutal, visceral and awe-inspiring; and thus nigh-on impossible to convey with mere text and jpegs. His huge-scale inspirations draw on raw data to creative vast, immersive AV pieces, and for his current show said data is drawn from a residency at particle physics research institute CERN.

  4. Number04-actualsource-itsnicethat-list

    This project takes a little explaining but bear with me. Utah-based design studio Number 04 spent six months researching how to mount a museum exhibition, exploring everything from different kinds of pedestals and which typeface is best suited to marketing, to how to light the show. This resulted in a 1,000 page catalogue that brought together all of the studio’s findings printed on baby pink paper. But for the show itself (at Utah’s Museum of Contemporary Art) the book is nowhere to be seen – instead it has been transformed into photographs, sculptures and installations that Number 04 (aka JP Haynie and Davis Ngarupe) has created based on the information they’d collected.

  5. David-hockney-perspective-should-be-reversed-itsnicethat-list

    David Hockney never fails to astound me. He’s likely the most prolific British painter, printmaker and photographer our generation will see, and rather than settle down into one comfortable style – he has entertained more than a few over the course of his 50-year and counting career – he continues to set himself new lines to cross. He pushes back on the boundaries he had set himself the last time around. 

  6. Karinhagen-itsnicethat-main

    Pottery has had a bit of a bad rep until recently when people have slowly begun to realise that it’s FUCKING BADDASS. The pottery world is creaking under the weight of the amount of thrill-seeking clay-spinners popping up all over the place making vessels for cool people to put their cacti and fennel seeds in, and so we thought we’d highlight a few people who are taking the clay world by storm. Think for a minute, if you will, how few kilns there are on this earth, and how many universities have in recent years completely shut down their ceramics department due to lack of funding and demand. Then get your head around how these guys manage to create such brilliant work at such an astonishing rate while still keeping up their day jobs. Seeing as pottery is well trendy right now, I thought I’d run down a list of my personal favourite pot-heads out there.

  7. Jr-newyorktimes-itsnicethat-list

    It’s always a joy when two creative forces we like collide and produce something that harnesses their collective talents. We’re huge fans of the team at The New York Times Magazine (so much so we interviewed design director Gail Bichler for the new issue of our Printed Pages magazine) and we love the work of JR, so the coming-together of the two was right up our street.

  8. List

    Have you ever wondered what the world might have looked like after the great Old Testament flood? What bizarre events might have followed such a freak occurrence in weather? Me neither. It’s honestly never crossed my mind. But illustrator Samuel Branton has been fixating on the idea, imagining the strange fusion of land and sea that a tumultuous rise in water levels might effect. He’s gone one step further and illustrated these fictional scenarios in miniature, taking this Regency medium and making it weird. Witness crabs beating up a wild boar, monkeys tossing an elephant in the air and a sad old sperm whale incapacitated in a tree. And Deluge is available in book form too!

  9. Aakash-itsnicethat-list

    When we last wrote about Aakash Nihalani we described his practice as a series of interventions, and now that he has graduated from playful street art compositions to full blown technological mind-blowers, that vaguery seems even more apt. His newest piece sees him create a series of interactive installations which respond to the movements of the subject stood in front of them. The video demonstrates it better than I could ever hope to, so wrap your eyes around it and try to keep your jaw off the floor. Aakash is entering a new age, people; just imagine the possibilities!

  10. Ines-longevial-itsnicethat-list

    Inès Longevial is an art director and illustrator based in Paris, whose beautiful paintings of intertwined bodies are likely to have you looking twice. She breaks up the human figure into segments in a fashion Picasso himself would admire, rendering different parts in contrasting but muted colour palettes to disguise the physicality of her subjects. The effect is quite beguiling; hands play across hips and colour distinctions hint at the seams of clothes, but nothing is clear cut. It’s a geometric play on anatomy, and it has clients including fashion brand Amélie Pichard and sportswear giants Nike coming back for more.

  11. Hannahwaldron-itsnicethat-list

    “I wish I knew how to weave,” I found myself sighing longingly while clicking through Hannah Waldron’s portfolio. The UK-based multi-disciplinary artist and designer has transitioned seamlessly from grid-based image-making to create works in textile form since completing an MFA in Textiles at Konstfack, Sweden, and it looks like she’s well at home in the medium. Map Tapestries is a series of woven works inspired by various city scenes – Kreuzberg, NYC and Venice, for example – in bright colours, evocative shapes and simple geometric forms, and it’s wonderful.

  12. Jen-stark-whirl-side-int-10

    If it isn’t broke then there’s absolutely no need to even think about fixing it, as artist Jen Stark is fully aware, and there’s nothing broken about her geometric papercut sculptures. The LA-based artist has been making such work for literally as long as It’s Nice That has been running – here’s the first time we ever posted about her, back in 2007 – and although her work continues to grow in intricacy, she’s stayed true to her roots. These days her sculptures are made more and more often inside huge, unassuming black and white boxes, recreating the feeling that you’re a child about to unbundle a giant parcel of joy on Christmas morning, and they’re still as impressive as they were eight years ago.

  13. Everybody-razzle-dazzle-1-photo-mark-mcnulty-int-list

    Sir Peter Blake has designed this fabulous dazzle ship, a Mersey Ferry that will carry commuter passengers for the next two years. Named Everybody Razzle Dazzle, Sir Peter says it’s his “largest artwork to date,” and that he was “honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry.”