Barry Allikas


After a sojourn in the world of organic shapes and landscape forms, I wanted to take my hard-edge practice back to basics; back to its minimalist roots. For me this meant going back to the simplicity of the line. Or, in this case, the stripe. Once that choice was made, it was then just a question of making a stripe, and making another one, and then another one. One stripe after another.

Of course it quickly became more complicated than that. Other decisions had to be made. How wide should the stripes be? How many stripes should be? How many colors should there be? How few colors COULD there be? How should the sequences be ordered? Should the sequences be ordered? Decisions, decisions, decisions. One decision after another.

Once I had a few paintings completed, more questions started to pop up. What was the meaning of this activity? What was the relevance of this activity? What was the justification for this activity? Etc, etc, etc. One question after another.

While looking at the paintings, I started to think about certain things. I thought about “Difference and Repetition”. I thought about “Crowds and Power”. I thought about code and DNA. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. One thought after another.

I read that Kant cited wallpaper as a prime example of what he called “free beauty”. (A philosophical idea) I read Harold Rosenberg decrying “apocalyptic wallpaper” as the inevitable result of the failed attempt on the part of “the Tenth Street School” to live up to the legacy of the original action painters. (an aesthetic idea). I did not read “Heart of Darkness”, but I did see “Apocalypse Now” (an expression of a socio-political idea). Ideas, ideas, ideas. One idea after another.

Barry Allikas was born in Montreal. In 1973 he obtained a Diploma in Cinema from Dawson College, Mtl. He began painting in 1975, independent of any institution, and had his first solo show in 1979. After spending several years pursuing ceramics, he resumed painting during two six month residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts. (83-84, 84-85). Since that time, he has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has had his work placed in many important public and private collections. He continues to work and live in Montreal.