Artist as Alchemist


Alchemy and the Sculpture of Michael Barbaric share at least one thing in common.  Each selects materials of little apparent value.  It is only with skilled/artful  manipulation( plus a pinch of magic)that these same materials become transformed into rare and exotic commodities which are then held in high esteem and revered by one and all.  Barbaric is a naïve.  He approaches his art with a mind unfettered by theory and formal dogma.  The materials for his sculptures are discovered purely by chance while walking through the forest.  The unique, the more ubiquitous shapes are the more likely to be chosen.   “Ponderosa Pine” and “Gamble Oak” are the most frequently selected.  The tree limbs have been lying upon the forest floor for hundreds of years decaying and becoming forest “Merz”.Some of the limbs are protected from within due to a concentration of sap and pitch.  Mike will drag his forest treasure for three to four miles over rough terrain.  Color and color texture relationships play a significant role in the overall success of the sculpture.  Surfaces are enhanced by way of the subtle interaction of texture and color. The current Sculpture of Michael Barbaric is a collage of cut and paste hip hop genera with a touch of early Surrealism.  The works are provocative by way of their simplicity. There is no shortage of witt in his artwork.  Humor is directed towards satire while cloaked within human associations.  Barbaric’s work is often mischievous but never malicious.


Critique by,   James C. O’Hara  Professor Emeritus  Northern Arizona University

The art of Mike Barbaric is one-of-a-kind and this is what makes it so provocative. Mike searches the forests for branches of trees that have a sensual quality. He then hauls them back to his workshop, judiciously carves them, and paints than to bring out the sensate qualities he sees in them. Painted wood is not a common thing in the an world, and this is precisely why Mike Barbaric's work is so creative. He is pushing the boundaries beyond the ordinary. Most of his works are large and people who see them cannot help but approach to look at them, even if they do not know why. But there is something in all good art that evokes curiosity and in this Mike Barbaric succeeds. 


Critique by, Gordon Rogowitz, artist and writer http:'/ 

Although self-taught sculptor Michael, in his artistic development, had close contact with the visual arts, which is certainly not negligible and contributed to the development of his distinctive expression. As a young man he was fascinated by the works of naive sculptor Sophia Naletilic Penavuša from Siroki Brijeg, and later, while in Zagreb, working as a photographer for several eminent Yugoslav magazine, he often deals with erotic photography and at that time communicates with the most famous Croatian conceptual artists following and documenting their artwork on photographs. By moving to the United States, Arizona, and discovering nature around Flagstaff he devoted himself to art again but this time to the sculptures. It is interesting that Michael realizes his sculptures by direct observation of nature and empathizes in its core. In the natural environment he finds all his real and abstract forms that will be developed further in his studio. He is completely spontaneous, working without plans and sketches, and like an Indian shaman he leaves the forces of nature to guide him into the creative ecstasy. His works are often abundant with passion and unrestrained eroticism, and the whole impression is further enhanced by expressionistic colors that feel natural to him. In this way, by using ecstatic colors he complements the deficiencies of forms and boosts the power of shapes creating a work of art that perfectly communicates to the observer. The skill to read and display visual energy through the simple visual elements will be present in all his works. Michael is an artist who does not live from the sale of works of art, his works arise from an inner need, because of that he does not pander to the dictates of the market nor the public, nor does he want to fit in any kind of art frames. He is entirely independent, original, as his own sculptures, that are bursting with natural energy and sincerity.


Critique by, Tomislav Cavar  Professor of Art History , Croatia