Raphael Barratt:A Winter’s Morning
Signed on reverse
Oil on primed paper
57 x 45 1/4 inches
With her luminescent works on paper, Raphael Barratt evokes the imagery of both early Renaissance fresco painting and Indian Miniatures. Ambiguous and seductive, Barratt’s work depicts landscape not only as place but as site for both memory and narrative.
A Winter’s Morning (2020) was conceived of during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, at the transition of the seasons. By collapsing space, Barratt situates her protagonist in direct dialogue with the uncanny winter scene that surrounds her. The bare branches of trees are placed throughout the composition like concomitant characters in the scene, mirroring the central figure’s stance and enveloping her within the landscape.
Both the landscape and the figure are swathed in cool, fresh tones, with the tension in the branches and curves of the hills mirrored by the figure’s gripping, twisted hands. The central protagonist is steady, self-assured, holding a direct gaze. She is poised and confident, yet holds a certain tension in her stance. She perches in a kind of dreamlike impossibility, appearing at once to both sit and stand. Limbs are bent, and hands are rested in lap, yet there is no seat in sight. A gentle ripple of unease works its way through the scene. The twisted body set in shallow, fragmented space present a visual puzzle, heightened further by an ambiguous light source. Light seems to emanate from both the sky and the ground below, imbuing an unnatural, fluctuating chiaroscuro across the figure’s torso.
A Winter’s Morning reveals a mastery of colour and composition. Barratt deftly flattens space, while weaving the composition together with rhythmic shapes and icy tones. In doing so she produces an enigmatic, dreamlike atmosphere that is at once evocative and entirely mysterious.
B. United Kingdom1994
Born in 1994 in Kent, Raphael Barratt received her BA in painting from Camberwell College of Art, London in 2017 before undertaking the Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School, London, graduating in 2018.
Influenced by the ancient landscape in which she grew up, Barratt explores ways to use landscape to set both the mood and aesthetic structure in her work. Inspired by Indian miniatures as well as the sculptural stillness of the early Renaissance techniques, especially those of Giotto and Piero Della Francesca, Barratt’s work does not define topographical truth but rather alludes to the specific atmosphere of moments in a place or landscape, both in the present and in memory.
Barratt works on paper prepared for oil, the surface of which creates a texture that is close to that of fresco. Using thin layers of paint and linseed oil, Barratt builds a luminescent quality in the painting’s surface which is balanced by areas of deep, dark colour.
She lives and works in Gloucestershire.