“Collectomania” by David Barnett opens the spring season at Ivy Brown Gallery.

Barnett, a surrealist artist incorporates discarded mechanical objects and gadgets into his artwork.

His work is characterized by its unique and eclectic mix of materials, which range from bottle caps, feathers, x-rays, machine parts, maps, doll parts, old clocks and typewriters etc. Barnett's use of these discarded items not only adds texture and depth to his work, but it also serves as a commentary on consumer culture and the disposability of modern technology.

In addition to his use of mechanical objects, Barnett's work often incorporates elements of humor and absurdity. Many of his pieces feature whimsical or fantastical creatures and scenes, such as a mechanical bird with flying machines, humans or parts of humans and cityscape made entirely out of discarded electronics, old magazines, books and various found objects.

My objective is to integrate these found elements with those fashioned after my own hand to convey a sense of conflict that resonates with the viewer. My works speaks to a recurring theme-the battle between society and automation for man’s soul.

Combining found elements with those fashioned by my own hand, my work encompasses two- and three-dimensional collage as well as sculptural objects. Infused with a rich sense of history, the essence of my work lies in the age-old struggle between nature and the man-made industrial world. My challenge is to convey that sense of conflict in a way that resonates with the viewer.

I incorporate Victorian era botanical imagery, ancient anatomical diagrams, and vintage mechanical components along with natural materials. Whether it’s a rusty piece of metal, branches from an oak tree, or tiny turquoise-tipped rooster feathers, the right juxtaposition reveals itself to me—the more absurd, the better. A character is born and a narrative begins to unravel. The theme of flight is recurrent, as is the conflation of anatomy and mechanics. The result is a menagerie of ethereal winged creatures, human and animal hybrids, and fanciful flying machines. In this era of mass-production and instant gratification, it’s my hope that these intimate and meticulously crafted works will also evoke a sense of rarity, delight, and mystery.

(David Barnett)