Daniel Barkley is a Canadian artist who explores the physicality of the human figure and its relationship to mythology and the history of art. Recurring among his paintings are nude, predominately male bodies depicted in scenes of both visceral power and stunning vulnerability. Whether drawing in the dirt, lying prone on the ice, or anointing themselves with mud or paint, the characters appear to be engaged in profound rituals of unknown meaning. Barkley’s work captures the emotion of the event, as well as the role of flesh and muscle in the enactment of human spirituality.
By presenting his characters nude, Barkley explores narratives that are powerful and mythological in their appearance, but open to analysis and extrapolation. “Clothes denote social class, profession, period, gender, age, etc.,” Barkley states in his website’s Artist’s Statement. “By eliminating them, paring down the mise-en-scene, the interpretation of the narrative is broadened to hopefully include the viewer’s own speculations.” Caught between states of intimacy and theatricality, Barkley’s nude figures operate as metaphorical expressions of the pain and passion that has shaped Western mythology.