The exploration of the face is a basic and fundamental trait of human social interaction and communication - a natural affinity which Barns-Graham explores.
Compositionally their immediacy confronts and confounds us. They dominate the foreground and their haughtiness combined with an undertone of vulnerability fuels our curiosity and keeps us looking and wanting to know more.
The viewer of Barns-Graham’s work is presented with perfection but the intended response is ambiguous. On one hand, the work seems emotionally charged, but on the other does not prescribe a single narrative. Instead, the lack of context, offers a limitless array of potential interpretations, with speculation demanded from the viewer.
In his latest works, the direct gaze of the sitters asks us the question -
Are we the viewer? Or are we the ones being viewed, or indeed scrutinised?