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“One day, as I was playing the piano, pictures appeared in my mind to the rhythm of the music. I witnessed scenes from my childhood, children dancing and animals flying through the air. There was no drama to this, but rather a sense of love and gentleness… (“Naifs… ces peintres du Québec et de l’Acadie” par Yvon M. Daigle, Anne-Marie Bost, Guy Boulizon, Editions Trécarré).
Growing up in the Bavarian Alps, Barbara Sala found herself eventually living in such places as Africa, Asia, South America, the United States and Quebec, Montreal, and it is from these places that come the scenes found in her paintings.
Going into therapy in mid-life after raising a family, it was music that opened the magical world of painting within her and she has brought forth a style that is at once naïve and symbolic. Her universe of animals, nature and community life talks of myths and tales in contemporary settings and the bright colours on her canvass allow us to enter into a time of innocence and childlike wonder.
Since 1987, she has participated in 15 individual and about 50 group exhibitions in the US, Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Israel and New York recently, and she is represented in “Naifs… ces peintres du Quebec et de l’Acadie” and “La Fête au Québec et l’art naïf”, both books about naïve painters in French-speaking Canada.
Also, she has published a series of blank greeting cards and two children’s book “Celestine and the Magical Geranium” (ISBN 1-4120-1905-2) which has been translated into French, “Célestine et le géranium magique” (ISBN 1-4120-8639-6) and “Village of the Heart” (ISBN 978-1-4251-4751-8).
In an article in the Montreal Gazette of July 22, 2000, the art critic Henry Lehman, writes about Barbara Sala: “There are two types of true naïve artists: the visionaries and those who want to paint realistically, but just don’t have the training or knack… Certainly, Barbara Sala is of the visionary type. Here is a sweetly hallucinogenic brand of art. Endless proliferation of detail – one detail begetting the next – seems endemic to the naïve sensibility… Sala is a “visual knitter”, but one with panache. “My images come from my head,” Sala explained. “I tell myself fairy tales but without using sentences.”
About herself Barbara Sala says: “I am known for happy, cheerful paintings which I expose under the title “The Magical Heart”. But over the years I have accumulated a substantial corpus of images where I dig into my childhood memories in war torn Germany and its aftermath. All my work is highly symbolic and sometimes I speak about a lot of pain.”
Dr. Rigas Bertos, former chairman of the Department of Art History, McGill University, Montreal, writes about Barbara’s work. “At first sight Barbara’s work seems to be the work of a “naïve” painter whose audience is children and in fact children love her paintings. Nevertheless I sincerely believe that her work has different meanings for different people of different ages. Some of her paintings create a magic atmosphere of acute awareness of what life is and what it means with all its hopes, questions, problems and despair.”
“It is difficult to express in writing the multi-layered experience I have in front of her work. All my life, from early childhood to old age, is mirrored in these paintings... Barbara has managed in her paintings to create a retrospective of human life... She has painted for all of us.”
Barbara Sala is represented by GINA (Gallery International Naïve Art) Tel Aviv and Artotheque in Montreal