David Barrett

“I work with the human form as my subject.

I work directly from the subject, seeing little merit in painting photographs.

I try to be faithful to the subject, and true to my materials.

I am disinterested in original concepts or ideas, I’ll leave that to poets and philosophers.

I am just a painter, therefore I paint.”


My Practice- three overlapping areas;

Portraits; The clothed figure. Smaller in scale, of people I know and family members whose appearance or character interests me. Occasionally I accept commissions, but my preference for working from life is a deterrent. Public figures I’ve been commissioned to paint include Michael D. Higgins, the poet Thomas McCarthy, and a never-finished study of the author John Arden.

The Sara Paintings and other nudes; For some time now this has been my main studio activity. I like to work with a model over an extended period. Years. It’s collaborative. I’m very grateful to all of the people who sit for me, but the models trust me. I work very close to the subject- within touching distance- this can distort the perspective and conveys an intimacy, which seems to make some viewers uncomfortable. Good. I’m glad. I don’t know what they’re for, but I’m not doing Parlour Paintings. I’m trying to create an ‘Equivalence’ of the subject. Not a likeness. I’ll always fail, because it’s impossible to do this with a living subject. But if the subject is a photograph, I see no reason to make it a painting.

Others; The first Paintings that I remember having made an impression on me were The Religious Paintings inside of churches; The Stations of the Cross especially, Altarpieces- and in the homes of Seventies Ireland; Images of St Anthony, The Sacred Heart and Pope Paul VI. Later, the Religious Imagery of The Baroque appealed- Its contrasts of light and dark, and its complex groups of figures dramatically posed and interacting with each other through gesture and glance. So some of my pictures have been deliberate attempts to reflect that tradition… Crucifixions, and Images of Saints or Sibyls- Titians ‘Ecce Homo’ and Carravaggios ‘Conversion of St Paul’- Id hope to do work based on The Annunciation, or perhaps a Nativity.



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