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"I'm drawn to the uttermost light and the uttermost dark. I'm fascinated by human existence and what makes someone behave in a certain way. I'm curious by what people try to conceal behind the masks that they wear."
Mitch Barrett was born in Staffordshire. As a teenager he was was fascinated by a large print of ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ by Salvdor Dali on permanent display in the hallway of his High school. Surrealism with its dream like images and Greek mythology that he was learning about in school, echoed deep emotions that captivated him. At the age of 17, he sold his first paintings, small watercolour and inks in the styles of Surrealism and Expressionism. Later he would explore the subject of narcissism from his own perspective and from his experience for a number of years as an International Fashion model. In 1992, he did his first solo exhibition 'Visions' in Kyoto, Japan. In 1997 in collaboration with two renowned Thai artists 'Symbolism' in Bangkok, Thailand.
He had been a student at Stafford College of Art & Design; then studied screenwriting and film directing at Bournemouth and Poole college of Art and Design and attended the University of Television and Film in Munich, Germany. At a retrospective exhibition in Vienna in 2001, he met Professor Ernst Fuchs – one of the founders of Fantastic Realism . He studied and later worked with Fuchs in Austria and France, where he adopted revived renaissance masters’ techniques including the use of egg tempera and oil glazes which Fuchs called the ‘Mischtechnik’. Fuchs’ influence was pivotal in shaping Barrett’s techniques and his philosophy as an artist; his adage was “by all means break the rules but first know the rules”.
Barrett after exploring different styles 'isms' realised that he was an ‘outsider’ not confined to any particular style of art and combining traditional and contemporary mediums. He has an impressive, personal approach towards painting and sculpture, one which is based on his long search in different artistic movements and ideas the historical past as well as the 20th century. The result is an elaborate concoction which has figurative painting at its core, while he makes use of Abstract, Symbolic and Surreal elements that complement the central figures of the painting, or the sculpture.
" I like your creativity. It reminded me at times of some Mexican art I had seen. I like the elongated figures that remind me a bit of Goya and the colours remind me of Chagall and Kandinsky."- Lorenzo (2015)
Imagination is the essence of Barrett’s work; he says: “I aim to tell stories through my writing, painting and sculpture which I hope will resonate with the observer on a deeper level.” Taking inspiration from mythology - ‘the power of myths’ by Joseph Campbell - and Jungian psychology, he also draws on personal experience and times living in Japan and Europe. Often confronted by his own narcissistic tendencies and inner conflicts rooted in duality he strives for self-exploration through his artwork. The concept of ‘fragmentation of the self’ inspires Barrett’s drive to seek unity – embracing masculine and feminine, and both the light and the shadow – which is expressed in his paintings and sculptures.
“Barrett emphasizes the contrast of light and dark, his figures are part of an elaborate, eclectic setting which contains a mixture of precise linear passages and painterly suggestive ones...Through his neo-Platonic visual exploration, Barrett is seeking comprehensive answers to the essential dilemmas of life.”
– Dr. Thierry Morel, Lecturer in Art History, University of Oxford
The art of Mitch Barrett is one that demands from the public a careful investigation to unravel all these intricate details and references that can be pivotal to fully experience his complete work as an artist. It is a process both exciting and rewarding, as the viewer is not passive but rather takes an active part in the interpretation of the artwork which is being presented.