This is Andy Barker's first solo exhibition since 2005. It is long-awaited, and the culmination of an unrelenting dedication to his practise. An unsung hero of the art world, Barker was for many years the sole studio assistant to Howard Hodgkin, since 1995, a position he held until the artist's death in 2017.
Throughout his time working with Hodgkin, Barker continued his own practice with complete pertinacity, often getting up before 5am in the morning to paint in his own studio before going to the studio of the Turner Prize winner.
Barker describes himself as a narrative painter and invariably uses oil paint and collage, along with other mixed media, to explore formal concerns of the picture plane.
His practice involves using photocopied images, taken from his own extensive personal photographic library, which has been served by in-numerous visits to Brazil, frequent winters spent working with Hodgkin in India, and on one occasion, Sri Lanka. Barker's specific interest in the picture plane derives from an appreciation of early Italian art.
The title of the exhibition 'In a Hot Country' refers to the Hodgkin painting of the same title painted between 1979-1982, in response to Hodgkin's travels to India.