In painting and poetry Barry Simons created images
that were at once tangible and elusive, real and hallucinatory.
His alchemy transformed the prosaic to the revelatory. Relentless,
most often figural images, offer a mixture of moods and interests
angry, farcical, sexually ambivalent, and cryptic. Though
his work has understandably been seen in outsider venues,
it was not limited to the folk manner obsessions often common to
Events in Barrys early life emerged latently
in his art. One deceptive sepia drawing depicts a small figure sitting
doll-like on a car seat. Knowing that Barrys teenage friend
died in a car he was driving reveals the painting as a tragedy.
Though not responsible for the accident, his subsequent guilt haunts
much of his work. This painting encapsulates many aspects of Barrys
interests and style.
Here, over a mood establishing wash, layers of linear
intrusions jostle for the viewers attention. Astride a couch-like
car seat the anguished central figure grimaces with bared jack-o'-lantern
teeth as a wind-up key pierces his head. Since Barry heard voices
most of his life, this key hints at the many torments Barry endured.
Keys open and confine. Keys start cars and offer explanations. Cars
appear repeatedly in Barry Simons art.
The rigid linear patterns common to many outsider
drawings were not for Barry. His art shows a much greater range.
In many paintings, blotchy background washes are surmounted by elegant
linear formations, while lines varied in thickness corral amorphous
wash areas into puzzling figures. In others, overlaying lines trap
or correct embedded portraits or party crashing blob-like figures
intrude from the edges. The humor of these uninvited blobs is that
they introduce such an absurd difference in style. Like jazz, Barrys
paintings seem to invent themselves on the spot. Style is flexible
and adapted to the need of conveying the image.