Born in London, Australian-British artist Irene Barberis has been exhibiting since the mid-seventies and internationally since the early eighties. She works as artist, curator and academic.
Inventing, making, curating and generating projects, exhibitions and platforms around the globe, Barberis’ initiatives span countries and borders throughout Europe, UK, USA, the Middle East and the Far East, often incorporating smaller more intimate intercultural dialogues and exchanges within the international University system. She has had tenure at RMIT University in Melbourne for two decades and has worked offshore in Hong Kong for much of this time.
In 2006, Barberis established Metasenta®, a nimble and flexible international arts research hub that links Universities, artists and the wider global arts community, creating ‘safe spaces’ for arts dialogue and exhibitions in all forms across the world.
Known for her provocative high-chroma works and installations utilising cutting edge materials, she is a painter, installation and new media artist working also with performative drawing and spatial kinesthetics. Minimal and conceptual systems and structures undergird her practice encapsulating in part the notion of painting and drawing as a flux, an organically growing and poetic tectonic. She has completed major commissions, is collected in both public and private collections internationally and continues to push the boundaries through her research into the history of ideas, faith and the female and global drawing. Her doctorate for the millennial crossover explored the abstract and figurative elements of the Apocalypse and its representations throughout history.
Her latest major projects and artworks involve Art and Science. ‘The Tapestry of Light’, a 36 x 3.2meter jacquard tapestry of the Apocalypse is the only known full cycle of the Apocalypse in tapestry form by a female artist. Collaborating with scientist David E. Mainwaring, inventor of a new nano-particle phosphorescent pigment embedded into fibre, Barberis incorporated the new material into the design and weaving of the artwork, allowing layers of imagery within the narrative to be visible separately at various times. The same science is utilised in her new work, ‘The LeWitt Tapestries’ which are projected to be completed and exhibited at the 60th Venice Biennale, Italy together with ‘The Tapestry of Light’.
The LeWitt/Barberis Project explores the thirty-five-year friendship between Sol LeWitt and Irene Barberis from 1974, and his influence on her work and thinking. These influences are investigated on location in each of his three studios, the Chester studio in the USA, the Mahler LeWitt studios and the Praiano studio in Italy and are the pivot for ongoing solo exhibitions. LeWitt’s influence on a wider selection of artists from around the world are curated into a set of international group exhibitions, recorded in a two-volume publication, catalogues and a series of Metasenta® small books.
Current Art Research Projects
The LeWitt/Barberis Project (2019–2025)
The Tapestry of Light: Intersections of Illumination; a 21st Century Apocalypse (1998–2025)
Selected Metasenta® Projects (all ongoing):
The Global Centre for Drawing – international exhibitions, projects and publications (from 2010)
Gallery Langford120 – in partnership with artist Wilma Tabacco, commercial exhibitions and curated projects in Australia (from 2011)
Metasenta Publishing - including the Small Book series (from 2009)
Artists in Leadership – global dialogue (from 2009)
Across the Gulf – exhibitions and exchanges in the Middle East (from 2008)
Moving Cultures – exhibitions and exchanges in Tibet/China (from 2009)
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