The South London Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by Simeon Barclay (b.1975) featuring an installation of new works in the Main Gallery. Known for his multimedia practice which incorporates sculpture, collage, neon, and moving image, Simeon Barclay explores the ways we navigate and perform identity based on cultural memory. His art is particularly engaged with aspects of aesthetics, and he often creates interventions in the architecture of gallery spaces through colour, light, and the use of industrial materials. His influences range from folk tales, fashion, and club culture, through to concepts of masculinity and the history of art.
In the Name of the Father brings together a new body of works that extends Barclay’s enquiry into questions of legacy, identity, and masculinity, through the lens of the father son relationship. Works in various media weave together multiple references to the personal, the social and the geographical as an attempt to understand and negotiate one’s relationship to place. The history of Huddersfield’s cloth industry and the artist’s father’s original trade as a tailor are both alluded to in a duo of bespoke grey felt suits, as is the wider history of urbanisation and migration in the town. Barclay’s past employment as an industrial machinist has been a major influence in his artistic practice and a towering totem of containers hints at this, as well as being suggestive of the chimneys that remain a feature in Yorkshire’s post-industrial landscape.
Barclay frequently meshes multiple cultural references into his works, playing on the degree to which our interpretation of art depends on the cultural perspectives we bring to the process. Works in the show nod to the artists Constantin Brancusi, Joseph Beuys and Alexander Calder, as well as to Johnny’s nightclub in Huddersfield, the British 1979 film, Scum, and 1960s Sci-Fi TV series, Thunderbirds. Dream-like memories of Barclay’s experiences are the triggers for the works brought together in this show, whilst the layering of additional references represent a process of filtering and re-remembering. The autobiographical content is undeniable and serves to draw out a much wider context, bringing into focus multiple issues around cultural barriers and relationships of power.