Sage Barnes: Makeover
Sage Barnes interrupts classic paintings with three-dimensional and realistic elements. The self-taught artist focuses on making dynamic combinations that satirize the traditional. In his latest series, Makeover, Barnes annotates various portraits with expressive gestures and layers, each unique to the original figure that lies beneath. The result are pieces that are meant to be not only viewed, but experienced.
Makeover by Sage Barnes
In Makeover, Barnes smears a woman’s face with strokes matching the red lipstick she holds. The piece can be seen as a rejection of conventional beauty standards, physically defacing the otherwise glamorous portrait. Barnes creates the illusion of using beauty products for chaos rather than conformity. The woman’s expression remains discernible through the vandalism, as if aware of her portrait’s changed fate.
Barnes frequently uses the smiley motif in his pieces. Whether inflated in balloon sculptures or illuminated in his ventures into neon, the symbol can be seen as a representation of the external faces we commonly display. In Layers, Barnes combines the smiley face with another central feature of his work: layering. Mats of paint are stacked to create the appearance of multiple faces. The figure gives the impression of peeling the faces which they’ve been plastered in. The separation is visible and the outside smiley only hints at the layers that lie beneath. The viewer is left to decipher what the concealed faces truly show.
Burn Out features the bust of a suited man holding a stick of dynamite. The space where his head should appear has been ruptured, splitting the piece into strips of burnt canvas and revealed paneling. Barnes brings elements of realism to a new degree, with each edition being hand torched by the artist. Like so many of his pieces, Burn Out challenges the separation between subject, artist, and viewer. The artist’s commitment to illusion shines through as he tactfully adopts new materials and methods to bring his pieces to life.