Abstraction in a duo: focus on Adam Ball & Oliver Barratt

Encounter Contemporary
Photo Encounter Contemporary
Photo Encounter Contemporary

One exhibition. Two artists. In the heart of Mayfair, Encounter Contemporary  is currently exhibiting the works of Adam Ball and Oliver Barratt. Their work contrast and complement each other with their unique identity. 

To mimic this curation, Mood Board Magazine’s reporter Marine sat down with the artists and chose to interview them separately.

Photo Encounter Contemporary

Painting: Adam Ball –  Sculpture: Olivier Barrat. Photo Encounter Contemporary

Adam Ball

Mood Board Magazine:  “Can you explain the research process behind your works? 
Adam Ball: Most of my work comes from multiple starting points using various source material layered and edited together. Recently I have worked with laboratories (for example, to create a slide of something that I then get photographed) or worked in various hospital departments, including shadowing a thoracic surgeon during an operation to remove part of a lung.

MBM: Why do you find scientific processes so inspiring?
AB: I’ve always been interested in science and it is a main area of inspiration for me but I try not to be too restrictive in what goes into my work. I enjoy the challenges of documenting or researching things outside my knowledge. I like the process of collaborating to obtain this. Much of my work deals with the world around us, both visible and invisible, and often that’s on a microbiological level. It’s interesting how much of this echoes things we see in daily life and while this may be unknown to us it’s also instinctively familiar.

Photo Encounter Contemporary

Photo Encounter Contemporary

MBM: Which work are you most excited about in the current exhibition?
AB: I am usually excited about the last piece I’ve made! I guess that is how you remain inspired. I have recently been working on my first public, permanent installation – a 3 x 16m light box imbedded on the outside of a new NHS hospital. I’m excited to have one of the preparatory works for this project, Until the day you feel good, in this exhibition. I’m also excited to be showing Genus, a large hand-cut charcoal drawing, not least because it was a big technical challenge.

Photo Encounter Contemporary

Photo Encounter Contemporary

Oliver Barratt

MBM:  What is your creative process like?
Olivier Barratt:  I work on up to a dozen sculptures simultaneously that come to fruition at critical moments. Each work is able to retain a playful openness that is only consolidated at the final moment. References are deliberate and then deliberately obscured. The sculptures are processed through the haptic and the imaginative. Hand making everything is critical to the creative process yet the final finish is one that references the refined sensibility of contemporary manufacturing.

Sculptures by Olivier Barratt - Photo Encounter Contemporary

Sculptures by Olivier Barratt – Photo Encounter Contemporary


OB: Materials are both revealed and concealed. Paint acts as both psychological signifier and the cover for internal structure. At the end of making a work or an exhibition there are always loose threads ready to be picked up in the next studio session. The beginning and the end of the work is always slightly contested.

“In my work I want both the seriousness of abstraction and the light hearted playfulness of post modernism.”- Olivier Barratt

MBM: It is difficult to understand how a sculpture can be intuitive – how so do you think yours are?
OB: Much of my work is about the process of thinking rather than a thought itself. They are circular, elliptical, convoluted and often puzzling but with an overall clarity and certainty to their final form. In order to make work about the ebb and flow of a thought, the material, the colour and the pulsating rhythm of the forms require a step back from hard rationale into the intuitive. A type of balanced negotiation between Apollo and Dionysus. Making objects in space lends itself to the playful serendipity of intuitive thoughts.

Sculptures by Olivier Barratt - Photo Encounter Contemporary

Sculptures by Olivier Barratt – Photo Encounter Contemporary

MBM: What is your relationship with postmodern British sculptors?
OB: If postmodernity could be described as a distant irony and a casual disregard of subject, then I would find myself more aligned with the early artists of modernism such as Moore, Hepworth and even Tony Cragg as well as Richard Deacon. However, if postmodernism could be described as a playful interrogation of cultural propositions then I warn to the open minded possibilities of multiple readings and the lack of paternalistic certainties. Abstraction is one of the great offerings of modernism and post modernity seeks to strip from it the underlying metaphysical ambition.”

Photo Encounter Contemporary

Photo Encounter Contemporary

If I had to choose a favourite, this sculpture (above) by Olivier Barratt is the one. Between, Chadwick, Moore, Hepworth, I have always enjoyed the works of postwar British sculptors… There is something quite peaceful, calm and serene about their sculptures which I find here in the work of Oliver Barratt. Finding new talents is the ability to recognise the ones of the great masters of the past and Encounter Contemporary has achieved  to bring out the best of this duo of contemporary artists.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit  Encounter Contemporary

An advocate for artists since a young age, Marine managed her first gallery at age 21, opened her first art gallery in Los Angeles at age 23 and finally created her current business, MTArt, to promote the artists she believed in across the globe. MTArt is the first artist agency promoting influential visual artists and specialising in talent management: building, growing and accelerating their careers.Marine is a thought leader, writer and frequent speaker on contemporary art. She is a member of The Thousand Network, the Creative Industries Federation, the Association of Women Art Dealers and a fellow of the RSA. Marine was listed on the Future of Women and is the London art ambassador of www.ohsoarty.com www.marinetanguyart.com