“What fuels my unexpected journey is knowing that what I have is not mine and what I do must have a meaning.’
– Ted Barr
Q: Hi Ted! Can you share an intriguing aspect of your background with us? What’s your story?
Ted: My life is a continuous, never-ending quest to decipher its meaning. I had numerous intriguing moments in my life. But I’ll share with you a thought I had concerning ‘Brains’ which happens to be my cat. It was the ending days of the summer, the days became shorter, the nights cooler. Brains stares at the window, I wonder what he sees and does he smell the same scents. Does he see the same colors? Does he understand that he is looking at a flourishing garden? That soon will be winter? That today is Thursday? Is there a way to explain to Brains that he lives in Tel Aviv and is a citizen of the State of Israel? That we are 11 hours flight from New York? That our planet Earth rotates around the Sun? That our Sun swivels Sagittarius A – a black hole in the Milky Way Galaxy? Could he ever grasp all of this?
Q: How would you describe your artistic style?
Ted: I learned for 7 years Figurative painting in Old Jaffa with the master Shlomo Tzafrir. He didn’t let me paint celestial elements saying, “You can’t jump so high before you learn to walk.” Only after he died in 2002 did I start painting the Deep Space series. I understood that I couldn’t encapsulate the enormous energies in the universe with small brush movements. And I needed a more expressive way, my experiments started, first with a mixture of oil and acrylic colors. Then by adding cold tar, and finally by applying Gesso. My method is called FLY (Free the Life within You), it’s about flowing contradicting ingredients on canvases with unexpected, inspiring results. I teach the FLY workshops all around the globe and I love seeing my students applying the FLY principles of joy, flow, and embracing the unexpected into their lives.
When I had my first solo show in NYC my gallerist Lee Vasu said to me:
“I have a problem with you, I can’t define your artistic style.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because there is no known artist or artistic style I can refer to your art to”
“Call it Freetism then,” I answered.
Q: Can you walk us through your journey in developing your signature “FLY” style?
Ted: I don’t sign my canvases by my name but by a symbol that encapsulates the FLY essence.
There is a meaning behind numbers:
3 – produce (mother, father, child)
5- the Human Being symbol (5 extensions)
8- the universe, completion
The Ancient Egyptian symbol of the Ankh speaks about eternity, the connection between the upper world – life to the underworld – death, when the Egyptian priests held the Ankh upward it symbolized life and downward death. The Roman emperors used it with the Gladiators’ fighters.
The dissection of 7 and 3 is known in the Kabbala as the Divine Sphirot – Keter, Hochma, Bina
And Earthly Sphirot – Daat, Hesed, Gvura, Tifferet, Hod, Netzah, Maichut.
The two figures are made out of 35 dots, each organ is made out of 5 dots
Each figure holds an Ankh made out of 10 dots, 7 as a base and 3 on top.
There is much more to elaborate on about the FLY symbol.
Q: Who are your key artistic influences? What fuels your inspiration?
Ted: My inspiration comes from a sense that what I possess isn’t solely mine, and my actions must hold meaning. Drawn to the stars since my youth, I feel a broader responsibility to family, society, and humanity, transcending religious differences. My lifelong quest involves decoding the enigma of existence and fostering positive change through a collective effort. Despite being a momentary visitor, I aim to leave a lasting impact by teaching and uniting like-minded individuals on the journey to a better world.
Q: What has been the biggest satisfaction you have experienced in your art career?
I have shown my art in museums and galleries all around the globe but one of the most inspiring moments in my career happened during the fires in Maui when a woman I never met before from Hawaii purchased a FLY pair of shoes. The ‘FLY by Ted Barr’ shop on Etsy was created at the beginning of 2022 to make my art usable and wearable, we are producing, furniture, carpets, lighting, clothes, and shoes printed with my FLY art. It makes me so happy to see people from all over the globe wearing my art items. This specific woman from Hawaii wrote to me that her house was burned and that she waited for her insurance money to purchase her first FLY shoes. For me, it is much more inspiring to have this dear woman wear my shoes than to expose my artwork at the MoMA.
Q: Tell us about both of your Motivas. What inspired their creation and their chosen titles?
“As Above So Below” is inspired by the first image of the Black Hole Sagittarius A, a result of a five-year global collaboration involving 300 researchers. The artwork, crafted from cold tar, acrylic, and oil colors, is created specifically for my Motiva project. The title reflects the Talmudic phrase, highlighting the resemblance between the vast elements of the universe and the smallest forms, emphasizing our interconnectedness. Human design, evolving to support the brain, connects us to celestial bodies. Despite our size, we operate on refined levels, seeking our unique note in the Milky Way orchestra. “As Above So Below” conveys that our minds mirror the stars, dispelling the notion of an ‘Out There.’ The human journey is to reunite with our true solar-galactic-universal essence.
“Cycles Of Life” draws inspiration from ‘The Tibetan Book of The Dead,’ exploring the spirit’s transformation in different human stages. Rooted in Buddhist philosophy, it challenges the notion of death, focusing on the spirit’s departure from the physical body. This series reflects the symbiotic relationship between our body’s energy and universal energy, akin to Earth relying on the Sun.
Connected to the As Above So Below Motiva, “Cycles Of Life” offers an alternative perspective—life as perpetual cycles of transformation, transcending the binary concept of existence and death. The series prompts reflection on life’s meaning, the human purpose, and the origins of life, tapping into archetypes embedded in our unconscious. In my art, white symbolizes the enduring journey of human life, representing the void and encompassing all color frequencies, echoing the complexity of the human experience.
Q: What are your thoughts on collaborating with Motiva?
Ted: Motiva for me is the ideal meeting point of my words and my artworks. An artwork has the power to touch the viewer emotionally. Sometimes without any seen trigger, it can evoke feelings, memories, and deep connections, inspiration quotes elevate the mind to a higher form of thinking thus my Motivas for me are the perfect blend for sharing inspiration.
Now available on motiva.art