COGNIZANT SYNERGY Abstraction rooted in Buddhist spirituality

Artist Profile: Barry Margolin

Written by Hilary Tait Norod

Barry Margolin’s saturated exhibition at Galatea Fine Art is unlike any typically seen in the Boston area, as he pushes past a white cube exhibition. His solo show, Play of Wakefulness, fully engages visual and spiritual senses, encouraging participation. The exhibition, deliberately packed with 24 bright, abstract, encaustic paintings, is accompanied by wall-mounted quotes from Buddhist texts connecting the moral teachings to a vigilant eye. This active participation occupies both the conscious and the intuitive mind.

Margolin’s encaustic paintings teeter on the edge between defying and channeling science. Each painting seems to differentiate into either a cool or warm color palette, as the artist guides the mesmerizing heat activated process of encaustic color mixing. The bright surfaces appear to be frozen or liquified– an embrace of the interconnectivity the artist expresses through this colorful process. The expressionistic compositions embody a mediation between different choices in the color mixing process and reverberate with the Buddhist mantras placed in the intervals between the paintings. To tie it all together, a decisively placed side table in the center of the main wall displays a patterned tapestry, a statue of Buddha and a charming orchid in full bloom, again whisking us away from the traditional gallery display and back to the artist’s intentions.

While walking through the exhibit with Margolin it is clear the artist knows, remembers and relives every spatter of paint, every introduction and seduction of color, and the materiality of his guided chemical reactions. This acute realization of each painting from start to end parallels the graceful devotion to his spiritual practices. Each teaching text presented is taken from the Sadhana of Mahamudra and has permeated Margolin’s everyday life through recitations practiced long before informing his visual language.

When probed further about how the text relates to the work and how it is encompassed his personal exploration, Margolin points to one quote in particular: “Good and Bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky,” and answers himself: “How does anyone not connect with that?” Margolin’s paintings, playful and color-full, illuminate positives and negatives within, while creating a cosmic scenery that acts as a stand in for humanity.

Play of Wakefulness: October 3-28, 2018. Visit Galatea Fine Art at 460 Harrison Avenue, #B-6, Boston, MA 02118, 617-542-1500. Gallery hours Wednesday-Sunday 12-5pm and by appointment.