My name is Michael Barber and I was born in Simcoe, Ontario in 1967. I've been creating ever since I can remember. I studied Graphic Design at The George Brown College in Toronto. After working for different advertising agencies and feeling the need to grow as an artist I started Strictly Visual in 1991, a graphic design studio where I began producing work that I felt was both creative and suitable for its application in the advertising market.
The desire to create freely and experiment without being concerned about marketability has taken me to painting, at first it was a difficult transition from creating work for commercial purposes to creating for personal ones. The inspiration for my work has come from my life and the lives of people close to me.
My works deal with examination of dark realities that are rarely spoken. Memories and thoughts are never clear and my paintings reflect the layers that hide or protect our past, the things we cherish and the things we'd love to forget. Quite often in life things that are out of our control have such impact on our lives, not physically really but emotionally, things that we will carry with us forever. The good and the bad both weigh us down and fill us up, to the point that there's no room left. Then one day something happens that forces you to shift things, reposition and prioritize the weight to a more manageable point for the time being.
I paint on mahogany plywood and use a mixed media approach. Resist techniques are used with the paint application. Gouging and scratching is done with various hand tools, shovels and hoes are used to scrape the work and expose the earlier layers to create a sense of time. Images are applied to the work by using a very primitive printing technique and manipulating the cut after various applications.
The creation of a piece is a very physical activity. I get lost in the painting and struggle between layers, caught in a dilemma of exposure and protection. It's an exhausting process and yet I find it so satisfying.