Text by Michel Forest, Art Historien and Museologue
concerning Barbara`s exhibition at the Museum of Naïve art, Magog in 2011



At first glance, when one enters the world of Barbara Sala, one may get the impression of entering the world of a young child. The distinct style, composition strategies and color choices of this unique artist strongly encourage this type of association. But such an impression is deceiving and should not be taken too seriously for the world of Barbara Sala is far from childish.  It is the world of an adult who explores adult themes and adult memories in an ongoing introspective conversation with herself.  A conversation, full of symbols and interpreted truths, that she generously shares with her public.

To all who enter this world we wish to say: “Take the time to examine carefully the works exhibited, with second and even third looks, for there are different layers of discoveries to be made in most of them.”


Barbara Sala has often told the tale of how she came to painting by way of piano lessons. Music led to images popping in her head while she played and these images, in turn, to the need to capture them on canvas.  She has also freely spoken of the fact that she initially made use of this new found interest in the context of a therapy, creating image that expressed her thoughts and feelings of the moment.  In so doing, she began an introspective journey which continues to this day.

In the ongoing “conversation” that the artist has been carrying on with herself for the past 30 years, one rule is worth mentioning: her choice never to filter the images that spontaneously come to mind while she is creating a scene.  This choice explains in part the presence in her works of a variety of elements, such as animals and invented beings, which surprise and often delight viewers. But, more importantly, it also hints at the presence of unusual associations and, possibly at times, revelations of unexpected truths.


Early works of Barbara Sala clearly show that she was a naive artist from day one. Painting such as The Terrible Parents, 1984 and Messenger of Light, 1985, although very different in theme and spirit, have all the earmarks of works to follow.  Even though the artist attended some art classes in the course of her career, she has always remained true to her original form of expression. 

Over the years, one notices that her palette has evolved towards brighter and more vibrant color schemes, and that her treatment of backgrounds has become more subdued and controlled.  Her choice of themes, however, has remained as diverse as ever, allowing her to explore with equal ease both the mysteries of the universe and the fabric of everyday life.  Works like My Neighbor’s Dogs, 1986, The Stole, 1995 or Solarium, 2009 reflect well the diversity of her interests.


The Stole, 95, 20 x 28”


Barbara Sala demonstrates in her work special interest for a variety of cultural and religious expressions or beliefs. References to the Bible, for example, are often present, as they are in the works of many other naïve artists.  But references to Egyptian, Taoist, Hindu, Buddhist, Rosicrucian or North American Native beliefs can also be found in works such as Buddha, 1996, Shaman’s Hut, 2000 or Moses in the Desert, 2001.

During the last decade, Barbara Sala furthered her exploration of these thematic by visiting several archeological sites during travels abroad.  We are reminded of her interest in such venues in the work entitled Red City, 2003, where pasted images of such sites are used to adorn the city’s skyscrapers.

Michel Forest,



2011  Montreal, Lasalle, Assciation des Artistes de Lasalle, Salon du Printemps,           «Mention»
2008  Montreal, Lasalle, Association des Artistes de Lasalle, Salon du Printems, « Mention »
2007  Montreal, Lasalle, Association des Artistes de Lasalle, Salon du Printemps,           « Mention »
1997  Prix de Galerie d'Art Naif Yvon M.Daigle - 2ième Concours d'Art Naif québécois «Le Memphré » 
1989  2e prix, classe semi-professionnelle  »Grand Prix de Peinture Canadien II, APCAQ »
1987  1er prix, classe amateur, «Grand Prix de Peinture Canadien I APCAQ »





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