Important Australian + International Fine Art
16 April 2008

Del Kathryn Barton

born 1972

synthetic polymer paint, gouache, watercolour and pen on canvas

162.0 x 182.0 cm

signed, dated and titled upper right
inscribed verso: del kathryn barton 2004 / "making love with love (version 8) watercolour, gouache, acrylic and pen on polyester"

$60,000 - 80,000
Sold for $72,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 4 - 16 April 2008, Melbourne

Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Melbourne


Girl, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, 2004

Catalogue text

Awarded this year's prestigious Archibald Prize for You are what is most beautiful about me, 2008, a tender self-portrait with her two children Kell and Arella, Del Kathryn Bartonis undoubtedly one of the most critically acclaimed, eagerly sought-after figures in Australian contemporary art. Since graduating from the University of New South Wales' College of Fine Arts in 1993, she has also been a finalist in the Blake Prize for Religious Art; the Sulman Prize and the Helen Lemprière Travelling Art Scholarship, and held highly successful solo exhibitions with Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney; Kaliman Gallery, Sydney and Karen Woodbury, Melbourne.

Like the best of her richly embellished, 'psychologically and visually sexy'1 work, Making love with love (Version ) offers a highly complex, disorienting meditation upon the dichotomous nature of beauty which, by highlighting both its sensual and abject dimensions, seeks to undermine simplistic notions of the feminine. As Barton muses, 'the obsession with the human form is about me trying to locate myself, to understand being present physiologically. [It is] layered with concerns regarding body politics, sexuality, death, pleasure principles, love, body-boundary confusions. To put it succinctly, I'd say my work is a sort of documentation of my desire to understand what it means to me to be in a woman's body...'2 At once lascivious and enigmatic, defiant and fragile, her lithe female protagonists thus betray a myriad of artistic influences from the fine nude drawings of Egon Schiele, to the contorted gestures of Kiki Smith and the often abject eroticism of Hans Bellmer and Louise Bourgeois.

Imbued with a constructed narrative which, as one author notes, 'is not always easy to read - and even easier to misread'3, Barton's art has inevitably been perceived as 'pornographic' in its typically confronting sexuality. Far from intentionally explicit or titillating however, works such as the present reveal rather an abiding interest in the effect of nature upon humankind's physiological and metaphysical existence, with the animals depicted representing the duality of the human psyche. What seems cute and benign can also be carnal and predatory; as Barton reflects, 'The animal psyche retains dualities that hold seemingly impenetrable mysteries- mysteries pertaining to lives lived in an elemental, instinctive immediacy that the contemporary human no longer shares on that physical level.'4

1. Edward Colless cited in Australian Art Collector, vol 39, January-March 2007, p. 99
2. Barton cited in Baker, C., 'Basic Instinct: Rabbit Protectors and Pussy Lovers', Oyster Magazine, vol 43, December-January 2003.
3. Bearman, N., 'Inner Child', Vive Magazine, February - March 2005, p. 50
4. Barton cited in Baker, op.cit.

Del Kathryn Barton is represented by Kaliman Gallery, Sydney and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne