“Remains of the Day” – vibrant and diverse work by Barry John MBE goes on show

Posted by Tenby Museum on Jan 30, 2018 Blog, Exhibition Archive No Comments

From electrifying paintings of the West Wales coastline to dark and savagely beautiful graffiti, Barry John MBE’s latest exhibition at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery is by turns thrilling, moving and brave.

The former soldier is well known for his trailblazing work running the VC Gallery in Haverfordwest, where he provides a safe space in which army veterans, older people, children and people experiencing isolation or mental health difficulties can try their hand at art and hold their own exhibitions.

He is also a respected artist in his own right and this show demonstrates the scope and strength of his work. The pieces on display include works made after visits to London in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. The resulting ‘black graffiti’ paintings have led some to dub him ‘the Welsh Basquiat.’  Treading the line between order and chaos, these large-scale pieces demonstrate a love of colour that runs through much of John’s work.

In a lighter mood, his ‘flamenco’ paintings reveal his skill as a draughtsman and a passion for the sunny sounds and rhythms of Brazil, while the vibrant blues and reds of his paintings of the Welsh coastline strengthen the sense that John paints the colours he feels, rather than the colours he sees. This is a painter keenly attuned to the energy and emotional resonance of his subjects, and able to switch palettes and styles seemingly at will.

John was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire and studied at Sir Thomas Picton School before joining the British armed forces. He was posted to Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Jamaica, America, Northern Ireland and Kosovo, and these travels inspired him to take up painting.

He left the army in December 2013 after 24 years’ service, opening the VC Gallery the following year.

His art career has run alongside the growth of the gallery, seeing him exhibit in London and in various locations in the UK. This latest show in Tenby is a chance to see John’s work closer to his home turf, and demonstrates the strength and versatility of this unique Welsh talent.

The show runs from February 3 to March 3.

(c) Jenny White, 2018

Barry John MBE