Carlos Barrios

I was born on June 26th 1966 in San Salvador, El Salvador, Central America. My father was an archaeologist and mother a home maker who also worked in business. I had a childhood filled with visits to magical ancient places, pyramids and temples. As a child art was an important discovery, it came to me for the first time in a stone belonging to an ancient city. I was on an excavation site wondering around amongst fragments of ceramic, obsidian and stone. I picked up one small stone, rectangular in shape, and as I looked into it I saw many figures. I kept it, and could observe it for hours, this fragment seemed to contain a film of moving and changing figures.

At about six years of age I discovered some pots of paint and brushes in my father’s workshop. As I moved the paint around with the brushes through my imagination I could see many things, I allowed my hand to follow and trace them. One afternoon I planned a surprise for my parents whilst they were not around I created a large mural on a long corridor wall and was very proud of my achievement. On their return I was ordered to scrub the wall until it was spotless. I then tried collage using pictures and textures cut from encyclopaedias and precious books, I was again reprimanded for my bad behaviour. I was not discouraged as my desire to create pictures of the world I experienced was so strong. I began to keep drawing books where I recorded my experiences privately.

My father was a collector of art and artefacts, I would stare into them and found myself transported to other dimensions, times and spaces. Everything was talking to me especially clouds and shadows, they seemed to describe a space between reality and fantasy, filled with adventures.

The civil war began when I was ten and lasted over ten years. In this war time madness and normality coexisted. Many nights the electricity was cut and in the candle lit spaces of the house I saw creatures moving and watching us, so I would paint and draw them. As I worked I would watch my hand moving, creating the figures and creatures, I was the onlooker, the witness to this seemingly automatic unfolding of pictures, visual descriptions.

From those moments until now, many years have brought new experiences, adventures, travels, people, places. Some moments filled to overflowing with inspiration and others empty, devoid of sensation. The best moments are those in connection with a pencil or a brush dancing over a piece of paper or canvas. Art makes me aware of different levels of existence within the universe, sometimes revealing many questions and other times great understandings.