Representing Contemplation, Portraying Negative Space: Sculptures by Sukhi Barber

The sculptures of British artist Sukhi Barber frequently display figures in meditative postures, with parts of their physical structures erased, rendered totally blank. The emptied portions appear in the form of holes, layers, slices, blocks and lines within a metallic frame. These cancellations do not make the bodies weak or hollow, rather they illuminate the intangible component of the human being—that may be equally powerful as the concrete, visible element.

The artist writes in her statement that her work represents “the negative space as being as important as the material itself, implying the dance of form and spirit, a constant state of transformation.”

Sukhi Barber

Born in 1971 in Hertfordshire, England, Sukhi Barber was drawn to the classical and ancient traditions of art and philosophy from an early age. She undertook a traditional sculptural training at The City and Guilds of London Art School, graduating in 1995 with the prize for sculpture, and a scholarship from Madame Tussauds.

After graduation, Sukhi traveled to India, captivated by the timeless quality of peace and balance that she found in the art of Asia. Settling in Kathmandu, Nepal, she spent the next twelve years studying Buddhist philosophy and producing sculptures based on the traditional techniques of stone carving and lost-wax bronze casting.

Embodying the peace and compositional balance of ancient devotional art, Sukhi’s sculptures express complex philosophical ideas with a simplicity and clarity that makes them accessible on an intuitive level. Both ancient and modern in style, they are meant to transcend ethnic and cultural separations, bridge the East and the West.

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Images used with permission.


Emanation by Sukhi Barber, 50.5″ x 39″ x 29.5″, bronze. Inspiration: “When we quiet our minds, and open our hearts, we recognise that we are always in the act of emanating. From our hearts we emanate qualities of love, kindness and peace quite naturally and effortlessly. As we look deeper, we realize that these qualities are actually pervading our whole body, even our whole surroundings. By perceiving this intrinsic purity in everything, we become truly connected, in a fundamental and dynamically creative way.”


Crystal Clear by Sukhi Barber, 15.5″ x 9″ x 9.5″, bronze. Inspiration: “A crystal captures and reflects or refracts light. It has the ability to transform simple shards of light into rainbows yet it remains in itself ever pure and clear. In the same way our minds experience all the complexity and beauty of existence, each of us enhancing experience with our own individual rainbows of expression, and yet the fundamental nature of our minds remains unaffected; pure, unchanging clarity.”


Sunshine by Sukhi Barber, 12″ x 9.5″ x 7″, bronze. Inspiration: “When one rests in the state of loving kindness, the radiance of compassion is like the warmth of the sun, shining from the heart, and touching all life.”


Dynamic Equilibrium by Sukhi Barber, 58″ x 39.5″ x 21.5″, bronze. Inspiration: “In the whirlwind of modern life, can we find stillness within activity, the peace in the centre of the storm? The sculpture ‘Dynamic Equilibrium’ holds the answer – a dancer, herself composed of tiny meditators, while wildly abandoned in ecstatic dance remains serenely centred in the heart.”


Radiance by Sukhi Barber, 12″ x 9.5″ x 7″, bronze. Inspiration: “When the dark veils of confusion and ignorance are dispelled the radiance of wisdom and compassion shine like the sun.”


Appearance/Emptiness by Sukhi Barber, 25″ x 21″ x 14″ /12″ x 9.5″ x 7″, bronze. Inspiration: “In every moment, we are the combination of form and spirit, impermanent elements and eternal consciousness. Appearance/Emptiness demonstrates how these two realities exist side by side, each adorning the other. While form is the playful expression of mind; mind itself is the spark that animates.”


Excell by Sukhi Barber, 50.5″ x 39″ x 17″/ 12″ x 9.5″ x 7″, bronze. Inspiration: “When we ‘excel’ we go beyond the ordinary, by developing qualities that elevate us. The title ‘Excell’ takes us a step closer to understanding what qualities are here demonstrated. A cell is a single, distinct unit. Perhaps part of a whole, but nonetheless, self contained and independent. This is how we conventionally think of ourselves, because we view our lives through a veil of conceptual duality. However, when we open our hearts we begin to realize that we are not distinct, but actually intrinsically connected – we ex-cell our selves – and through this process natural qualities of love and kindness manifest that far excel our previous limitations.”


Ebb and Flow by Sukhi Barber, 24.5″ x 20.5″ x 14″, bronze. Inspiration: “When settling into the ocean of mind waves will always arise – waves of concepts or emotions – this is mind’s natural creative expression. If we allow these waves to roll through, and watch them dissolve naturally back into themselves, far from being a distraction, they can bring great clarity and deepen our experience. Then, like the skilled surfer, we can ride the waves.”


Temple by Sukhi Barber,  12″ x 9.5″ x 7″ (bronze). Inspiration: “The body is our temple, our home for this life, and the basis for wholesome activity. However, the highest aspiration is not primarily to manifest qualities on a physical level, but rather the inner transformation of consciousness. Then, like a temple lined with shining gold, these inner qualities radiate beauty, transforming both inner and outer.”


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