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Artist Statement

My life, as both a photographer and painter, is an obsessive examination of humanity within the context of intimate settings.

Exploring the private drama of humans is endlessly fascinating to me and laden with boundless storytelling possibilities.

I use an array of visual language and painting styles to convey my ideas and feelings.  Part of my creative process is to challenge myself technically. The challenges include painting pace, color mixing and material choice. I paint using bright, vibrating colors, promising a pleasurable connection. Upon closer scrutiny, however, ambiguous and ominous imagery require the observer to look beyond the cheerful palette to decipher a deeper meaning.

Within my art, I examine deeply private states of being, often hidden even from ourselves. Threaded throughout the bodies of work are themes of vulnerability, interdependence, desire and envy, challenging the viewer to confront emotions and experiences that otherwise would remain buried beneath the façade of everyday life.

VEILED STATES

Presented as portraits, these gouache paintings were made quickly, each in a single day. A friend and I challenged ourselves to make a painting every day for 30 days.

The works probe our inner, submerged states of being. They enact dramas both real and imagined. The paintings are suspended between surreal and cartoonish alluding to both whimsy and fright.

MOUTHS OF
MY FRIENDS

This body of work was started as a painting-a-day challenge, each small painting completed in a single day. They are painted from photographs I made by asking friends and families to open their mouths. Surprisingly, very few resisted.

As with much of my work, these paintings probe the world within, both physically and psychologically. The interior space of the mouth is both repulsive and erotic. It is the channel of verbal expression. Our mouths are not only the artery for life, but also act as the channel for the inner world to be made public through speech and song. These paintings embody the infinite variation, yet ultimate sameness of humanity.

THICKETS

This series draws on the genre of landscape painting exploring themes of human need and interdependence.

The works depict not only an above ground view of colorful, abstracted objects reminiscent of plants and trees, but the complex network of interconnection below the surface, showing the intermingling of life forms that might otherwise appear independent.

This work was done during the COVID-19 pandemic, when our well-being was dependent on the behavior of strangers while we were simultaneously thrown into near constant contact with our immediate families. The pandemic highlighted our broad interdependence of the global community. I aspire to expose our intense human interdependency in these works.

GUARDIANS

Drawing on the genre of portraiture, the Guardian series are a whimsical blend of human, plant and insect figures presented as nearly life-size portraits.

They are based on the concept of the Guardian Angel, a protective spirit unique to each individual person, guarding us from harm.

These paintings were inspired by my secret desire to protect my teenage son during his tumultuous senior year doing high school on Zoom from his bed, isolated from anything resembling normalcy due to Covid. Two of the paintings hung on each side of my son’s bedroom door for over a year. He’s thriving now, so it must have worked!

BIOGRAPHY

Leslie Barton grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. After studying pre-med at University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she began to travel extensively around the world. After 28 moves, she landed in Los Angeles, where she continued her career as a photographer, founding what grew to be one of LA’s premier event photography businesses. During this time, she produced a Black & White art book entitled The Bride Revealed, published by Andrews McNeel.

In 2010, Leslie decided to further her creative education and study painting, earning her degree in studio arts at UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture, graduating magna cum laude. Her prior experience working as a documentary photographer is fundamental to her ability to observe small, intimate details of human behavior. These observations inform each body of work she produces. Leslie has exhibited in both group and solo shows in the United States and France.

EDUCATION

2012 Independent study with artist, Benjamin Britton

2011 Graduated magna cum laude from UCLA School of Arts and Architecture 

2011 Studied painting with Lari Pittman and Roger Herman and photography with Cathy Opie.

2007-2009 Studied advanced painting at UCLA Extension

2008 Studied painting and color theory with Marie Thibeault

2006 Artists residency, Painters Edge, Idyllwild California

2003-2008 Independent study with artists, Lisa Adams and Renee Amitai

1976-80 Studied Photography and pre-med, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

WORK EXPERIENCE

1986-current Freelance photographer working throughout the USA & Mexico.
Photographed news, sports, editorial, events, and personal fine art projects.

Photo by Orit Harpaz.

PUBLISHED

2019 Catalogue for Gallery 825 Los Angeles

2005 ‘The Bride Revealed ‘Published by Andrews McMeel
Photographs by Leslie Barton – Text by Sheri Myers

EXHIBITIONS

2022 Three Person Show at AndLand, The Brewery, Los Angeles

2021 Two person show The Met DTLA

2020 Solo Show at Metro 417, DTLA

2019 Group Show Gallery 825 Los Angeles

2011 Solo Show, Undergrad Gallery, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

2010 Group Show, New Wight Gallery, UCLA, Los Angeles

2008 Group Show, Five Continents, Paris France

2006 Group Show, Art 16, China Town, Los Angeles, CA

2006 Group Show, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA

2006 Group Show, Idyllwild Arts, Idyllwild CA

2006 Solo show, UK, Beverly Hills, CA

2005 Group Show, MP Studio, Culver City, CA

2004 Group show, Two Babes in the Woods, Idyllwild, CA

1991 Group show, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago IL

1990 Group show, Sunprint Gallery, Madison Wisconsin

COLLECTIONS

Elena and Joe Wolek, Los Angeles, CA

Renee Fellinger, Seattle, WA

Isabel and Lawrence Gund, Los Angeles, CA

Herb and Barbara Leshnick, Malibu, CA

Los Angeles Jewish Community Center

Maureen Murphy, Santa Monica, CA

Mario Rivera, Palm Springs, CA

Stephanie Savage, Los Angeles, CA

Pete and Elizabeth Anthony, Bozeman, MT

Stephanie Savage, Hollywood, CA

CONTACT

I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me through my phone number, e-mail, or use the form below:

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