The influence of his father, who worked for the toy company Mattel, is unmistakable in Neal’s current works
Neal Barab’s current sculptures can be described in two words: playful and colorful. In the “Personaggi“ (People) series, they are small fantasy figures, and you only have to look into the career of the artist from California to understand the origin of the ideas: Neal Barab’s father worked for the toy company Mattel, and Neal was invited to look at the products as a child. “Some of his early childhood experiences were seminal to his later development as a sculptor,“ writes a long-time friend on the website, “the concept of fun and color has stayed with him ever since.“
There is really nothing to add to this – we could put down our work and browse Neal Barab’s website.
But we journalists are a strange lot, and we have done a lot of research to gain clarity. Perhaps readers will appreciate the following condensed information:
* Neal studied at the University of California in Santa Cruz;
* He was then attracted by the call of the sculpture symposia around the world and the call of Pietrasanta, the small sculpture town between Carrara and Pisa,
* where he later became one of the founders of the Pescarella Studio.
So, his career development and motivation were quite normal, as with many internationally successful sculptors: art is his sole vocation and life’s work, and also fun and a way of earning money.
This also gave him the freedom to put monumental forms aside and turn to small works of art.
Color plays a vital role in these: it is either applied to white marble or is brought together from various stones to form an overall figure.
He answers the point that some of his colleagues don’t like the fact that marble is colored by human hands without us asking: “I use marble, I make sculpture, but most importantly, I produce Art. Which has no limitations.“
He writes this without any excitement.
Rather – we assume – he looks up and down at himself and his sculptures, noting with a smile “I am a California artist, though I have been in Pietrasanta for 30 years. The longer I’m away, the more it is clear that I have a California aesthetic and mentality.“
Going to Pietrasanta to arrive in California, so to speak.
It will be interesting to see whether life takes him somewhere else. At least for the moment: “I feel in the prime of my life creatively and productively. Sometimes I stop in the middle of my work and laugh. It is so good, the creative life, the marble, Italy, my family and friends. Thank you to everyone.“
Photos: Benvenuto Saba
(19.01.2024, USA: 01.19.2024)