Barry with a TWIST

Posted on 12/06/12 No Comments

McGee graduated from El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California. He later graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991 with a concentration in painting and printmaking.

McGee rose out of the Mission School art movement and graffiti boom in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early nineties. His work draws heavily from a pessimistic view of the urbanexperience, which he describes as, “urban ills, overstimulations, frustrations, addictions & trying to maintain a level head under the constant bombardment of advertising”.

McGee’s paintings are very iconic, with central figures dominating abstracted backgrounds of drips, patterns and color fields. He has also painted portraits of street characters on their own empty bottles of liquor, painted flattened spray cans picked up at train yards and painted wrecked vehicles for art shows.

McGee has had numerous shows in many kinds of galleries and was also an artist in residence at inner-city McClymonds High School in Oakland, California in the early 1990s.

He was married to the artist Margaret Kilgallen, who died of cancer in 2001. The couple has a daughter named Asha.

The market value of his work rose considerably after 2001 as a result of his being included in the Venice Biennale and other major exhibitions. As a result, much of his San Francisco street arthas been scavenged or stolen.[1][2]

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McGee was highly influential on the urban art scene that followed in his wake. He popularized use of paint drips in urban-influenced graphic design, as well as the gallery display technique of clustering paintings. These clustered compositions of pictures are based on similar installations he saw in Catholic churches whilst working in Brazil. He also was an early participant in the practice of painting directly on gallery walls, imitating the intrusive nature of graffiti. His use of chisel tip markers has heavily influenced sticker art and graffiti in general, which can be clearly seen in works produced by artists like sure, faust, and mecro. McGee learned his later lowbrow style from the late Margaret Kilgallen, but was taught graffiti in 1989 by SR-1, the founder of the THR graffiti crew, of which Barry was the second member.

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McGee was involved in a controversy regarding the Adidas Y1 HUF, a shoe for which he provided the artwork. This gave rise to a protest campaign by some Asian-Americans who claimed that the picture on the shoe’s tongue depicts a racist stereotype. McGee responded to the controversy in a March 2006 press release.[15] He stated that the drawing was a portrait of himself as an eight-year-old child. Barry McGee is half Chinese.

In 2004, as part of an exhibit, McGee spray-painted “Smash the State” on the walls of San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez’ City Hall office (City Hall is a registered national landmark).”[3] Gonzalez told the press that he knew his office would be repainted for the next occupant.

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“Throughout his career,” writes Alex Baker in the exhibition catalog, “Barry McGee has continued to surprise and contradict expectations.” Including rarely seen early etchings, letterpress printing trays and liquor bottles painted with his trademark cast of down-and-out urban characters, constellations of vibrant op-art painted panels, animatronic taggers, and an elaborate re-creation of a cacophonous street-corner bodega, along with many new projects, this first midcareer survey of the globally influential San Francisco–based artist showcases the astonishing range of McGee’s compassionate and vivacious work.

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McGee, who trained professionally in painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, began sharing his work in the 1980s, not in a museum or gallery setting but on the streets of San Francisco, where he developed his skills as a graffiti artist, often using the tag name “Twist.” McGee’s use of this and other monikers—such as Ray and Lydia Fong—as well as his frequent collaborations can make it difficult to precisely situate the artist’s unique authorship. Using a visual vocabulary drawn from graffiti, comics, hobo art, and sign painting, McGee celebrates his Mission District neighborhood while at the same time calling attention to the harmful effects of capitalism, gentrification, and corporate control of public space. His often-humorous paintings, drawings, and prints—all wrought with extraordinary skill—push the boundaries of art: his work can seem refreshingly informal in the gallery but surprisingly elegant on the street.

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McGee has long viewed the city itself as a living space for art and activism, but his more recent work has brought the urban condition into the space of the gallery. Increasingly, his installation environments express the anarchic vitality of the inner-city street, incorporating overturned cars and trucks, and often spill beyond the frame of the gallery or museum.

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Barry McGee is organized by Director Lawrence Rinder, with Assistant Curator Dena Beard. Barry McGee is made possible by lead support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and presenting sponsor Citizens of Humanity. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Ratio 3, Cheim and Read, the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, Prism, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, and Cinelli. Additional support is provided by Rena Bransten, Gallery Paule Anglim, Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt, Suzanne Geiss, Nion McEvoy, and the BAM/PFA Trustees.

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When Visiting the gallery, Beware of Spraying Hands…..!!!


BAM Gallery Entrances
2626 Bancroft Way
2621 Durant Ave
Between College and Telegraph

KID 594

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