By Dr Ana Karaminova, art historian and independent curator.
Barbara Egin’s art, like life itself, is filled with emotion and shaped by opposing forces: strength and vulnerability, dynamism and melancholy, transience and eternity. These contrasting elements blend together harmoniously and take shape as paintings, photographs or sculptures. Egin’s works are highly individual but at the same time give the viewer a feeling of familiarity; by presenting excerpts from our own lives in unusual configurations, they create a tension between experienced and invented reality.
While Egin’s early paintings were characterised by vibrant hues and dense colouring, her current works show a brighter palette. Contours and contrasts dissolve into fluid, overlapping layers that convey a sense of lightness and transparency.
Barbara Egin is above all interested in people, and depictions of women constitute a major part of her oeuvre. Her female protagonists are not struggling to emancipate themselves, however, nor are they to be understood as sociocultural gender constructions. They are at once confident and uncertain, strong and vulnerable. The women she portrays are young, old, child-like or mature – simply human, in fact; they manifest the psychological and biological aspects of femininity in all its diversity and complexity.
In Egin’s paintings from the last few years, luxury objects such as expensive clothes, accessories and designer furniture are presented in combination with animals of exaggerated proportions. Two worlds collide here – the natural realm and that of human status symbols – and thereby raise questions of wealth, value and worthlessness, of power in and over life. Painting in oil on wood, Egin gives her own interpretation of the vanitas motifs that have been employed by visual artists since antiquity, serving to indicate the futility of human aspirations by stressing the ephemerality of life. In these works, the object and its living counterpart harmonise in terms of colour and their placement within the pictorial composition. The paintings reflect our zeitgeist without passing judgement, and in this way offer considerable scope for interpretation.
“I am a voyeur in the best sense of the word. I am engulfed by the things I see. Sunlight on colour, green, red, yellow, nature, tree, object, human being. With these ingredients I create my own minimalistic world. All that is superfluous is omitted – traces are enough for me. This is my mode of communication and my way of appreciating life. I am fascinated by the apparently random nature of things. I use framing to present this randomness in a new context, to provide new associations that are seen and determined by me. Creating art is pure joy, endless freedom.” - Barbara Egin