DO I KNOW YOU ?, 2002

Important Australian + International Fine Art
1 September 2010

Del Kathryn Barton

born 1972
DO I KNOW YOU ?, 2002

synthetic polymer paint, ink and pastel on canvas

183.0 x 310.5 cm

signed, dated and titled lower left: “DO I KNOW YOU ?” / -del kathryn barton- / 2002

$60,000 - 80,000
Sold for $66,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 16 - 1 September 2010, Sydney

Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Company collection, Melbourne


Girl, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, 2004

Del Kathryn Barton is represented by Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Awarded the Art Gallery of New South Wales' prestigious Archibald Prize in 2008 for You are what is most beautiful about me 2008, a tender self-portrait with her two children Kell and Arella, Del Kathryn Barton is 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 Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, and held numerous highly successful solo exhibitions with Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney; Kaliman Gallery, Sydney and Karen Woodbury, Melbourne. Nominated Australian Art Collector's 'Most Collectable Artist for 2007', indeed her seductive, intricately detailed paintings, drawings and soft sculptures are ever-increasingly popular with private and corporate collections alike, including Artbank; BHP Billiton; RACV; and the International School of Tourism, New South Wales.

Like the best of her richly embellished, 'psychologically and visually sexy' work, do I know you ? 2002 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...'1 At once lascivious and enigmatic, defiant and fragile, her lithe female protagonist thus betrays 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'2, 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.'3

1. Del Barton cited in Baker, C., 'Basic Instinct: Rabbit Protectors and Pussy Lovers', Oyster Magazine, vol. 43, December - January 2003
2. Edward Colless cited in Australian Art Collector, vol. 39, January - March 2007, p. 99
3. Del Barton cited in Baker, ibid.