Barry Margolin at his exhibition Play of Wakefulness at Galatea Fine Art
Written by Hilary Tait Norod
Abstraction Rooted in Buddhist Spirituality
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.
Barry Margolin, Roaring Sound of the Immeasurable Void- Play of Wakefulness 12, beeswax, oil pastel, shellac and semi ink on panel, 40 x 30 in., 2018
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.
Barry Margolin, Mandala Which is Never Arranged but is Always Complete: Play of Wakefulness 32, encaustic and paint marker on panel, 30 in. round, 2018
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 in 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.