Los Angeles-based artist Sergio Barrale, who creates enormous, absorbing drawings, is now featured his first major solo show. “Our Private Religion” opens on Saturday (April 1) at Last Rites Gallery and runs through April 22. Barrale was last mentioned on HiFructose.com here, and he was included in Hi-Fructose Magazine Vol. 41.
The title of show, which features graphite drawings on canvas, references the artist’s use of religious figures and iconography (now including individuals like Joan of Arc, rendered and tethered to modern feminine empowerment). When Hi-Fructose asked to elaborate on his use of large canvases in his work, Barrale says he considers “the viewer’s body as being part of the relationship to the work. When I make a gigantic scowling face, which the viewer is a smaller than, there is an immediate conversation that begins when you walk into the gallery. Intimidation. They have power in size and you do not. The relational aesthetic to the viewer’s body is important in communicating a visceral body feel of sinister judgment that is inherent to these religious orders.”
Some of the artist’s new work uses gold leaf detailing for emphasis. This touch and several other qualities make the something to be specifically experienced in person. “There are also two qualities that the viewer wouldn’t get through a computer screen, the pungent perfume smell and the texture of the cloth,” Barrale says. “I soak the canvases with oil & incense water used in Ayahuasca ceremonies and I rub them down with the bark of a Palo Santo tree which is sacred in the amazon. I also use a butcher knife to tuft up the cotton of the canvas and work the graphite to a deeper texture. I have my own little ceremony when I make the work.”