We headed over yesterday to the Pinot Gris Gallery to take a look at the works by Rob Barber; today I returned with some friends to take photographs and write this blog post. The gallery is small and well constructed, tucked away in the corner of a homestead sim. Rob Barber, aka Rob Steenhorst, is a contemporary artist from the Netherlands who has been active in Second Life since 2006. He produces paintings and drawings, but also digital media works, some of which are on display in this gallery. His images are surrealist and realist inspired, both odd and amazing.
Perhaps the poet Arthur Lava (2003) says it best, reflecting on the work by Barber, noting that [a]rt should speak the language of life. Or rather, express its impossibility. It should talk about people who suppose they are in charge, but who will have to admit that more often that not they are just puppets of their own mistakes. This ambiguity is seen in Rob Steenhorst’s (Rob Barber) work. Many of his characters are standing somewhat stiffly and absent-mindedly in their surroundings. They appear awkward even in their euphoric poses. They clearly want something, but simultaneously seem to have given up a little already. This is how the artist builds versatile stories with the body language of his characters. These stories are both witty and endearing and give us at least the certainty that life in all its aspects, as odd as it may be, cannot be created. Fortunately, irresistible works of art can….
The viewer of Barber’s virtual world photographs is pulled into a world of the macabre; humor, dread, and anticipation are experienced interchangeably and simultaneously. There is a hint of surrealism, realism and, yes, also the classical to be seen in these works. All in all, the images by Barber are nothing short of remarkable. I know I spent a lot of time in front of each of them as I had a really hard time walking away.
Top photograph of gallery and photographs below of Rob Barber’s work by Kate Bergdorf