Self-taught and equally adept at employing fine art and street art techniques, Missouri artist Sage Barnes draws on all manner of influences to create his work. His signature portrait style depicts people with their heads obscured by different objects, allowing the viewer to project their own thoughts and feelings on the figures portrayed.
Get in touch with ArtLife today to make an inquiry about the Sage Barnes art we have for sale, and read on to learn more about the artist’s life and work.
Born in 1995 in the Missouri suburb of Saint Joseph, Sage Barnes was raised around art from an early age, thanks to his grandmother Susan Walter. A professional painter who worked in oils, she gave him some of her old brushes, and from that point on, the young Sage never looked back.
Despite this keen interest, Barnes didn’t get much out of studying art in an academic setting, not helped in part by an early diagnosis of ADHD. “I think my generation isn’t that interested in art because they just picture old paintings they saw in an art history class,” he explained to a journalist in 2017. Instead, after quickly dropping out of FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Los Angeles, he took to practicing his craft in the real world.
It didn’t take long for the young artist’s decision to be proved right, as Sage Barnes’ art quickly became a hot commodity in the underground art world. His work has been exhibited around the United States and the rest of the world, first showcasing his paintings at a gallery in Kansas City, before selling at Miami’s prestigious Art Basel showcase and several cities in the United Kingdom.
As a Generation Z artist, Sage Barnes is also acutely aware of the power of social media—particularly Instagram. With a bio that reads “college dropout”, Barnes takes to the platform to showcase his works in progress, explain his art, and interact with other artists and his fanbase. His work has also picked up celebrity fans, including rapper G-Eazy and footballers Cam Newton and Eric Berry, and has landed commercial collaborations with brands like Joe And The Juice as well as Boda Skins.
In terms of his approach to pop art, Sage Barnes makes regular use of mixed media to create his work, which gives his paintings a multidimensional feel. Starting with a canvas base, and initially covered with aerosol and acrylic paints, he then affixes other materials like foam and plastic flowers, further obscuring the faces of the figures he paints.
Shows such as PREFACE and Look Alive have also looked into our modern relationship with technology and social media, with his interactive piece, Switch, inviting viewers to effectively update the artwork’s “status” by flicking the titular switch to change its color. Meanwhile,Barnes’s use of texture through multiple layers of acrylics demonstrates a level of internal turmoil and unrest in the minds of the people he paints. He has also incorporated emoji-like faces as stand-ins for his subjects’ real visages, further emphasizing the lack of separation between man and machine.