Page 183. Syd Barrett

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4 Responses to 183. Syd Barrett

  • Syd Barrett was a minimalist. He lived off the material plane, thus one bed, one floor. His paintings range through what he was expected to do at art school to pure abstract, and back to figurative. He had a need, compulsion, to paint and write. He first destroyed his paintings when his mother sold her house in February 1972 and downsized. Syd had to remove all his canvases from the family home at this time, but had nowhere to take them so he simpy burnt them. There was no one, visiting him at the time, he wanted to give them to. The large black canvases with a singular red or yellow square he had been doing, were simply burnt along with his art school projects.

    This practical tactic was also used later. Although much has been made of the way he destroyed his paintings after having photographed them, as a part of his approach to Art, in reality, it just became a necessary because he did not have the space to store them.

    • Fair enough. I wasn’t there. But art isn’t about practicalities only. Nor are artists. It may well be true that Syd wouldn’t have destroyed his paintings if he’d had enough space to store them. But he had other options. he could have painted very small canvases, as Samuel Palmer did, or kept paintings he particularly liked even though they were painted years before. But he didn’t. He just created – and recorded – and destroyed. Did he actually care about the paintings continuing to exist once he’d done them? Again, I wasn’t there. But I think that cycle of creation and destruction is part of Syd, part of his world.

      • I wasn’t there either … but I saw that he had painted both small and large paintings. Before this critical period of 72, he gave some to family and friends and painted some specially as gifts. After this, he painted and gave some as gifts to family. At the time of giving them he cared, and knew they would exist, but then he may have ceased to think about them. The cycle of create, record destroy may have been more pronounced in Syd’s world with the larger more abstract paintings I saw he did later, even though he had more space to store them. Do you think this create, record, destroy was a factor in his world with music?

  • Could be. I’ve never thought about it like that. And it would mean that though he stopped making music, he was actually on the same path all along. Intriguing.

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