The Mystical-Surrealist Work of Artist Barbara Gothard is an Invitation to the Fantastic

barbara gothard

Photos Credit: Barbara Gothard

With a lifelong passion for the arts, mystical-urrealist painter Barbara Gothard’s career has been in full force. Gothard has has shows both in the U.S. and internationally, her most recent being at the Galerie-Métanoïa in Paris. Based out of Palm Springs, California, Gothard’s work is reminiscent of Dali and De Chirico. One can also see influences byHieronymus Bosch and Magritte, with each piece representative of her imagination and her desert surroundings. Her environment is encapsulated in dream-like states, while subtle subjects offer viewers varying perspectives. Gothard’s surrealist style and bold paintings are opportunities to change your perspective and shift your focus, without moving an inch.From her time in school to her years traveling the globe, each endeavor influences Gothard’s career and takes her work to the next level. Barbara Gothard took time out for her busy schedule to tell JustLuxe about her pieces of the past, current projects and what we can see in the future.

barbara gothard

When did you start working professionally as an artist?

My work as a professional artist began initially after I finished college, which I refer to as Phase 1 or before children. And, not unlike many women, my full-time art career was postponed until 2008 whenStage2 began.

What has been your main impetus to work as an artist?

My impetus evolved in an intangible way as a means to communicate some of my innermost thoughts visually rather than through the spoken word. I was very fortunate that my mother not only recognized my budding ability but also took steps to encourage me by enrolling me in Saturday morning art classes when I was in the second grade. This creative drive has been an integral part of my life ever since, although the degree to which I was able to implement it was dictated by family and business circumstances. 

After making the decision and commitment to return to my art, I was confronted with and viewed the prospect of losing all of my possessions due to a combination of molds and asbestos exposure following rain storms and dealing with the uncertainty surrounding my son’s liver transplant operation — not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to refocus the way I approach and confront each blank canvas with a new kind of urgency, courage and excitement - all at the same time. With these drivers, the natural (metaphoric images) evoke contrasts with the abstract (confronting the viewer by their interdependence) I draw directly onto the canvas, watching the shapes and colors evolve and change as the dynamic of the contrasting elements take shape. This unfolding mystery of complex spatial systems is what compels me to continue painting, anticipating viewers’ responses to the concept of dramatic challenges of change infused with great expectation.

The impetus is also driven by a commitment I made to myself to return to my art, to be as productive as possible and to share my art as widely as possible.

 I’ve been very fortunate to have lived and worked in various cultures throughout the world so I’m sure I’ve been influenced directly and indirectly by those experiences and the people I met. The universality of the importance of hopefulness and being adaptable to change in some of the direr circumstances I’ve seen and by the people I’ve met, influences my artwork. I’ve also been influenced by the simplicity of some of the design elements used by other cultures, which often resemble the same kind of spatial elements I try to create, and which supplemented their storytelling. Increasingly, I realize that some of the colors from those designs are creeping into my palette.

barbara gothard

What would you like viewers to take away from your art?

That I’ve succeeded in making them think about what they saw, what it might mean and not just look at the artwork as purely decorative.  When I see viewers return two, three or more times to take another look at my artwork I feel that I’ve connected with them in some way and that they are thinking about what they’re viewing. I know my artwork can be challenging for some viewers, but my hope is the takeaway for these viewers is to appreciate that they were exposed to a different, and perhaps, new way of thinking about art. And lastly, I would like for viewers to recognize the optimism in my art.

How do you feel your art has changed throughout the years?

Not unlike other artists, my work has evolved from more traditional, nearly life-size figure, photo-realistic work to experimenting with abstract expressionistic images and evolving into a more Surreal approach. As the figurative paintings began to feel too personal I simultaneously began expanding the patterns I used in those earlier paintings into geometric architectural shapes with more dimensionality, expanding the space, and opted to incorporate flowers or other organic images. These were the precursor to my work today.

Additionally, my work today is also informed by my practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhist philosophy in the Soka Gakki International-USA. When I’ve commented that my art is autobiographical but not in the sense of the realistic representational images, my work is greatly influenced by my everyday circumstances and experiences, which is where the hopefulness amidst conflicting elements comes into play and the joy I experience in the process. Perhaps the best way to convey this is one of my favorite quotes from Daisaku Ikeda, “When we create or appreciate art, we set free the spirit trapped within. This is why art arouses such joy.” This sums up my essence as an artist — my art gives me great joy.

I am currently represented by Jorge Mendez Gallery in Palm Springs, CA, Galerie-Métanoïa in Paris, France, via ArtSlant, Artsy, and my website,

Carly Zinderman

Carly Zinderman is a Senior Staff Writer for JustLuxe, based just outside of Los Angeles, CA. Since graduating from Occidental College with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies, she has written on a variety of topics for books, magazines and online publications, but loves fashion and style best. In her spare time, when she?s not writing, Carly enjoys watching old movies, reading an...(Read More)

Related Articles

Around the web