Arts & Entertainment

Barbara Licha – In Progress

Barbara Licha. Photo: Mark Mordue

Walk into the Up Space Gallery in Marrickville, and you will find yourself surrounded by floating figures, architectural cages, and strangely graceful urban visions that occupy the space between isolation and ecstasy. All of it constructed out of wire.

Polish-Australian artist Barbara Licha says her past work involved painting and graphic approaches to drawing that involved pen and ink. Inspired by her drawings Licha began to experiment in the studio with sculpture, initiating the process of creating figures with chicken wire. 

She soon realised, “the figures did not need clay or plaster.” And that something more interesting was happening, “a sense of three dimensions with the lines. It’s like placing a drawing into the space.”

Parallels to the sculptures of Giacometti might appear to be a reference for her work. But although Licha admires Giacometti as an artist, she does not see him as an inspiration or a genuinely relevant comparison. “How can I say it? He is sad all the time. He is trying to deal with very different feelings to me.”

For Licha, it is the German choreographer Pina Bausch who is one of the most powerful influences on her vision. And it is the nature of modern dance that more generally catches her eye. A sense of movement from the figures she makes is certainly visible. At times, they almost seem to float. Licha smiles at this description. And sees the idea of floating as something quite literal to our natures. “We do float. We do it all the time.”

She continues to speak of her figures with great affection, even joy. “I love the figures, I love how they become their mass. They really respond to my feelings as I am making them. None can be the same.”

Licha plans to keep making figures and structures during the time the exhibition runs, so people can witness her process and see how her individual works come together, as well as grow into a larger relationship.

On at least one level she is creating her own ‘inner’ city, combining forms and structures into a larger landscape she tellingly refers to as “the silk webs.”

Mixing a greater variety wires with other materials, she sees her practice advancing and deepening. Her cityscapes, composed of buildings and ‘cubic’ structures, suggest apartments or homes. “I’m interested in human behaviour. And I admire what architects do with buildings,” she says.

“I love construction. But with the human involved in it, how we are searching for the emotional and finding out ways of belonging to each other. It’s a fundamental of human behaviour to be this way. To need our own space, our individuality, but to seek that connection to one another and with ourselves.

“We live together. In the end, it doesn’t matter about our cubic situation, we have our space, we need our space, but we are close to one another too. We are city people after all.”

Until Feb 29. Up Space Gallery – Hut 42, Addison Road Community Centre.. 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville.

By Mark Mordue

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