Barney Bubbles – Past Present Future


This pic was drawn by Barney Bubbles in 1968. It is based on the results of the parlour game ‘consequences,’ where a folded  piece of paper is passed around and the guests add to the unseen drawing above, using over-the-fold clues of where to begin provided by the previous artist.

This was a favorite pastime of us  loose gang of chaps and chicks in the A1GGz, who hung around West Kensington, London, in the 60’s. The art appears to be a graphic drawn entirely by Barney Bubbles but is, I think, based on various preceeding games of  ‘consequences,’ played to while away stoned evenings of  ennui. I recognise the lower squiggling concoction as being derived from a particularly good result played, if memory serves me truly, with Barney, his ever faithful friend Lorry and myself one dark night during a power failure when we worked by candlelight.

With its ‘Right awareness of Past, Present and Future’ and ‘The universe falls into chaos and the stars hurtle into disorder’ it is obviously in tune with the passing Buddhist sensibilities of Barney during our underground mag Oz 12 days, when he’d been reading Herman Hesse (unfortunately recently outed as a sometime Nazi) and considered himself a bit of a Boddhisatva ready to take on the world.

In Barney’s ventures into the steamy world of godly reason, he’d previously incarnated, very briefly, as a  Jewish student of an uncle up North, who’d told him about the mystical Cabbala that, like some early chip circuit, held the graphic answer to the Theory of Everything.

Reading about the Russian Suprematist, El Lissitski, it is apparent that he had much in common with Barney apart from a premature, self induced demise, in that they were both excellent robbers of graphic symbolism, taking their ideas from wherever. Like the Russian expat Jewish carrousel carvers of imaginative horses for their round-abouts in New York of the early 20th century who took their skills at creating Temple adornment, which included fancy horses, to commercial advantage, Barney and El  were both adept at creating new symbols from old ideas.

El went on a tour of the Jewish walled setlements, the schtetlach*, villages of tzarist Russia, places  ‘beyond the pale,’ documenting the carpentry Temple structures with their eloquent wooden carvings, images that were often borrowed from other cultures, English heraldic crowns and lions  for instance, or the squares, circles and triangles of Greek geometry used to describe their deic mysteries 0 and lots of horses. El took the ideas of this vibrant art and turned it to his own use, using the cube of Jewish mass as his signature. As did Barney, who could take a greasy hamburger bun wrapper and turn it into a  graphic meal. All graphic property is theft in deed.

*Shtetlach (plural) Shtetle (singular) according the book ‘Joys of Yiddish” by Leo Rosten

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