Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1962) to a Cuban mother and Argentinean father, Cristina Barr left Argentina and her career as an English Literature teacher to come to Paris, which has been her home since 2001. She is known for her bold and intense paintings that intertwine the private and the public – the intimate and the political, combining autobiographical elements with stories from literature, and observations on the contemporary world. She uses colour and heavy brushstrokes to create unsettling tableaux which, at times, challenge the social and sexual codes still present mainly in Latin American societies. Charged with a unique psychic and emotional drama, her works, always inhabited by a strong female presence, express what it is to be a woman, particularly one living under the oppressive hierarchies and controlling conventions of patriarchal society.
I’m interested in the human condition, the psychological depth of the characters I paint, exposing their power but also their vulnerability. I would like the viewer’s psyche to be “disturbed” by the presence, the existence of my characters, this is why I choose big, life-size formats. I aim at the confrontation of selves.
Uncompromising is the word that maybe best describes Cristina Barr. She allows herself the freedom to paint uninhibited, flirting with figurative as well as abstract expressionism. Her exhuberant brushstrokes and vibrant colors reign in her portraits, in her worlds always inhabited by human beings. Women mainly. Conscientiously, and with a great sense for beauty, she portrays models to appeal the beholder, at first sight. Yet, this is not the main motive of her art. Unconscientiously, she moves away from the exact copy of reality to express emotional intimacy, spiritual, or metaphysical states of mind. Layer after layer of paint to enter the psychological space of the subjects,- their psyche and the world around them that is transformed by their own appreciation of reality, in an interplay between figurative and the gestural looseness of expressionism.
Vivi Julliand – Founder & Curator – Nordelta Art Gallery – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cristina Barr's work explores our times.
She is currently working on three axes.
Je pose, donc je suis ( I pose, therefore I exist)
Our individualistic, pleasure-driven existence seems to be justified only as part of the “posing culture” on social media. For this series of grand format portraits, her “muses” are not established fashion icons but just unknown young people striving for their fleeting moment of glory on Instagram, creating a performance of “self”. The models thus reveal their feelings: self-possession, doubt, this assertiveness that comes to them feeling the power of their beauty, but they all share a common certainty: the awareness that their “fame” is short-lived, and that they are as fragile as sitting ducks. This “visually promiscuous” series scrutinizes the performative aspect of our lives, and also, the voyeuristic aspect of how we are experiencing other people.
Futuro de un pasado pluscuamperfecto!
A series of paintings intended to shock, raise people’s concern on social issues and mainly on climate change, the planet, as our only home, in danger. Her works in this series are sometimes the product of her imagination – like coming out of experiences lived in dreams. What the spectator sees might seem tragical, yet, it is embodied of a profound beauty…because after the tragedy, there is always hope- because the human being grows from the ashes resulting in an epiphany, a new road to a better self. In this series, her work has both abstract and figurative elements, to portray real elements that tangle with the ethereal.
Cosa ‘e minas!
“This phrase is used in a pejorative way, by some men in Argentina, to talk about the trivial things, they believe, women do or enjoy doing, like having “a crisis” when one nail chips off before a rdv, or spending days window-shopping till they find the right dress for a party. Being a feminist myself, knowing that women nowadays engage in serious causes, I decided to ironically “play the game” and portray these “cosa ‘e minas (women’s stuff). Because when you are sure of who you are, of what you do, you do not feel ashamed of your feminine part. On the contrary, you cherish it!”
Previously, portraits linked to literary works of English Literature Classics, embodying personal imagery or collective symbolism. They reflect her ever-lasting love for books and her former career as an English teacher.
Her paintings have been exhibited in France, Argentina, USA, Qatar, Spain, Portugal, and England.
Instituto Nacional del Profesorado en Lenguas Vivas. Diploma: Teacher of English as a Foreign Language.
University of Bath, England. Master in Management of Educational Organizations.
Workshop in Visual Arts. Asociación Amigos del Bellas Artes. Buenos Aires. Argentina
Student under Greek painter Anna Maria Tsakali. Paris-France.
Workshops in Sculpture in clay and bronze under French sculptor Juliette Lanos.
UAL Central St Martin’s. London, UK. Expressive Painting Workshop under Polish painter Ewa Gargulinska.
* Musée d’Arts Décoratifs. Paris, France. Workshop in Oil Painting under Uruguayan painter Miguel Nuñez.
* Workshops in Life Drawing and Painting under Argentinean Painter Edgar Saillen. Paris – France