Per Barclay was born in 1955 in Oslo, Norway. He trained as an art historian, notably in Italy, where he studied in Florence, Bologna, and Rome. He currently divides his time between Turin and Oslo.
Barclay has been known for his exploration of space throughout his career. His sculptures and installations embody the essence of space, incorporating elements such as ladders and windows, as they delve into spatial exploration, bridging the gap between the present and the distant, the tangible and the imperceptible.
The perception of space is a central theme in his photographic work. In his Oil Room series, Barclay engages with neglected settings, characterized by the temporary or permanent absence of human beings, valuing and commemorating their inherent allure. His carefully selected locations encompass a Sicilian palazzo, an industrial building near Paris, and a medieval chapel, all of which are immersed in symbolic liquids such as oil, wine, blood, water, or milk. The large-format photographs create a captivating interplay of symmetry, mirroring, and chromatic effects, seamlessly bringing various elements together. The expansive scale of his work allows Barclay to unveil intricate details and to evoke a profound sense of grandeur and a state of meditative contemplation.
Barclay represented Norway at the 44th Venice Biennale. In August 2023, he will mount a solo show at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. His work has been featured in numerous international solo exhibitions, among others at Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain), MoMa PS1 (New York, USA), and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo, Japan).