James Barth Awarded Copyright Agency Partnerships Commission

The Institute of Modern Art and the Copyright Agency are pleased to announce that Meanjin/Brisbane-based artist James Barth is the third recipient of the Copyright Agency Partnerships (CAP) commission.

The $80,000 contemporary art commission is the third in an annual series presented by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund in partnership with leading Australian arts institutions. The commission supports mid-career and established Australian artists to create and exhibit career-defining new work. Barth will exhibit her new work at the IMA in late 2024.

Barth’s work explores the themes of trans self-representation and embodiment. Trained as an oil painter, her recent work extends beyond the traditional through a layered creative process. Using 3D modelling software, Barth first renders avatars created in her likeness into detailed digital tableaux. Her compositions are then animated into video works and transmuted into oil paintings.

To create her paintings, images of the artist’s compositions are silk-screen printed onto aluminium panels using oil paint. The wet paint is then brushed to soften the crisp lines of the synthetic imagery. The resulting works combine the virtual and the painterly.

Barth’s unique practice reflects her interests in painting, self-portraiture, and film. Her monochrome works often depict domestic scenes, pairing idealistic imagery rendered in clean lines and shapes with imagined bodies overwhelmed by mess and decay. Mounds of organic materials, such as fruit peels and leftover food, are often left to sweat and decompose in the uncanny worlds of Barth’s avatars, who are imbued with a sense of ennui and listlessness.

For the commission, which will extend across all of the IMA’s galleries, Barth will begin her conceptual departure from self-portraiture. While drawing on the material characteristics of modernist architecture, the cinematic languages of the 1960s and ‘70s that developed in conversation with this architecture, and dance, Barth will dismantle her avatar across digital and physical worlds.

‘James Barth’s work is as compelling as it is confounding. We are thrilled to be working with her to realise this ambitious exhibition, which promises to see her work take new form,’ said IMA Director Robert Leonard.

‘We are grateful to the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund for their enlightened and generous support of contemporary Australian artists. Opportunities such as this allow artists to expand their vision and create career-defining works.’

Copyright Agency CEO Josephine Johnston said, ‘This commission comes at a pivotal point in James’s career, and we are delighted that our partnership through CAP provides the financial support for James to work uninhibited, as well as expert institutional support from the IMA to produce an outstanding exhibition.’

Barth’s commission follows the presentation of TextaQueen: Bollywouldn’t at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (2022) and James Nguyen: Open Glossary at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2023), the first two instalments in this trilogy of commissioned exhibitions.

Barth’s solo exhibitions include Earthbound (2023) and The Placeholder, Milani Gallery, Brisbane/Meanjin (2021). Her group exhibitions include Embodied Knowledge: Contemporary Queensland Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane/Meanjin (2021) and New Woman, Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane/Meanjin (2019). Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Naarm/Melbourne; and Griffith University Art Museum, Meanjin/Brisbane. Barth is represented by Milani Gallery, Meanjin/Brisbane.


Image: James Barth, Spilled Blueberries, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Meanjin/Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner.