“Mostly I reduce the world to absurdity; in that form it is manageable”
Born in Dunedin in 1939 Barry Cleavin lived many years in Christchurch but now resides and works on the Otago Peninsula. He has produced a remarkable body of work chiefly as a maker of etchings although recent images have been digitally rendered. Usually figurative, sometimes surreal, and often cryptic the images expose a very individual commentary on the world and its inhabitants.
Since 1966, Cleavin has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand including two surveys of his work; Ewe & Eye, Auckland Art Gallery 1982, and The Elements of Doubt, Robert McDougall Art Gallery 1987. Another survey show As the Crow Flies, Sequences and Consequences, was presented at the Gippsland Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia, early in 2002.
Solo exhibitions such as Hindsight, The Bitter Suites, A Series of Allegations, Losing One’s Marbles, Trying to Get Things Into a Proper Perspective and Critical Masses have regularly appeared.
Major group shows include Anxious Image, Auckland Art Gallery, Face to Face, The National Art Gallery, Wellington, Prospect Canterbury, Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch and Treasures, Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
International group exhibitions include Print Biennales and Triennales in Barcelona, Berlin, Bharat Bhavan, Biella, Bradford, Buenos Aires, Cracow, Cuba, Frechen, Fredrikstad, Grenchen, Ljubljana, New Delhi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sapporo, Tokyo, and Tuzla. Drawings have been exhibited at the Premi International Dibuix, Joan Miro, Barcelona, and the Exposition International de Dessins, Rijeka, Yugoslavia.
Barry Cleavin was senior lecturer in Printmaking at the University of Canterbury School of Art from 1978 – 1990, and has been recipient of various awards including a Fulbright Fellowship in 1983 to work at the Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico. He was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2000, and Doctor of Letters from Canterbury University in 2005.
Lateral Inversions: The Prints of Barry Cleavin, by Melinda Johnston,
was published by Canterbury University Press in 2013.