Essay for Chianti Sculpture Park Catalogue, 2003.

By Brenda Moore-McCann

Twist and Shout, two columns in contrasting colours of pink and spotted white marble, reflect Barab's love of the properties of stone, colour, simplification of form, and a sense of humour. The two sensually undulating columns, while abstract seem to represent two dancing figures. The Twist and Shout of the title is a linguistic pun which refers to a dance called the twist, and a song of the same name by the Beatles from the 1960s, as well as to the curving plasticity of the marble. An anthropomorphic interpretation is encouraged by the rounded 'head' on top of the taller pink column.
The smaller piece on the other hand, supports a cubist kind of 'head' which alters the perception of the work as one moves around it. The base of each piece is circular from which the spiraling columns evolve to create an intense sense of movement in what we know to be inert stone. This simultaneously confounds our perception yet increases our enjoyment of the work.
Barab refutes the traditional notion of monumental sculpture: "My work relies more on the anti-hero. Using "Noble" materials, I offer a parody of the usual monument to heroism, strength, power, and the symbolism of events." His consistent use of a material like marble, traditionally associated with monumental sculpture, may therefore seem paradoxical. However, the marbles for Twist and Shout were chosen primarily for their contrasting colour, the facets of crystal, and the great variety of their striations and pigments. Raggio di Luna, a marble much favoured by Barab, is found in the Sea of Marmara (marble sea) in Turkey. It is called Leopard Stone due to the fact that the internal cylinders of pigment, when carved in a particular direction and to a particular depth, yield either stripes or spots. Both sculptures are made from large grained crystals of marble which when left rough-carved, readily sparkle in the ambient light.
Twist and Shout was personally installed by the artist after selecting a site which could create a dialogue with the surrounding woodland. Notably, both pieces rest on a natural, rather than man-made, base of moss and thyme, while the pink sculpture is deliberately placed in front of an evergreen oak (leccio) to intensify the colour contrast between the art and nature. The moss at the base was collected and planted bythe artist to facilitate the growth of thyme with its pleasant smell in springtime. The artist states:

"I'm passionate about stone, in all its colours and textural possibilities. For some years I've been working with groupings of different stones, placed within the same composition. I'm particularly interested in working with architects and garden designers, creating unified artworks combinig nature, architecture and sculpture...This work reflects my split aesthetic preferences. Between simplicity and excess. These forms are simple, but the richness of the stone gives the work a complexity in which one can see worlds spinning..." Although born in California, Barab has been working in Pietrasanta, with its constant supply of marble from all over the world, since 1987. Using the variety of stones available in various combinations since then, the artist makes works on both on a small and large scale. His desire to unite sculpture with nature is readily apparent in Twist and Shout with the striking contrast in colour between the two columns and nature, and by the light and shadow cast on the crystalline surfaces by the flickering Chianti sun penetrating through the foliage. This absorption of a changing, moving environment, mirrors the many 'twists and turns' within the surrounding trees and branches, but also relates to the sensual movement of the human body.
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