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Studio Sunday: Stephen Appleby-Barr

A portrait of Stephen Appleby-Barr's art studio


Toronto-based artist Stephen Appleby-Barr is our Studio Sunday feature this week. Appleby-Barr has become known for his detailed, realistic oil paintings that immortalize fictional characters and figures from the artist’s own imagination. A combination of regal, anachronistic aesthetics and a surreal use of figure and symbolism creates a wonderfully unique aesthetic for the artist’s works.  


Appleby-Barr’s studio looks airy and bright, and I love the visual contrast of the warm hardwood floors with the white walls. While it looks like a fairly narrow space – at least from this angle – it seems to work out just fine for the scale at which Appleby-Barr tends to produce his works.


The artist’s paintings are stacked up and piled behind him and around him – I wonder if this was an artistic choice of the photographer, or if it’s how Appleby-Barr tends to organize his studio normally. I especially love all the little bits of kitsch that can be seen on close inspection of the photograph. On the floor in the left side of the photo, there’s what looks like a sculpture of a white cat. On the right side, some interesting-looking books are stacked up on the floor. Even the artist himself appears to be holding either a cat or a white rabbit in one arm.


The furniture pieces behind and around the artist in this photo work great in the space and add to the overall anachronistic feel. It looks like there’s a big wood desk that takes up the whole back wall of the space – piled high with supplies, books, and whatever materials Appleby-Barr might need. I can totally see the artist drawing inspiration from this space in his works.


Stephen Appleby-Barr is represented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto. The artist lives and works in Toronto, though he has spent time in Germany as well. The artist studied at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.

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About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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