An unwavering commitment to community informs Barrington's wide-ranging practice alongside an exploration of migration and cross-cultural exchange. 

Barrington studied at Hunter College, New York, and The Slade School of Fine Art in London, where he has lectured since 2019. His first solo exhibition, which opened the same year he graduated, was curated by Klaus Biesenbach at MoMA PS1, Queens, in 2017. His work has since been shown in numerous solo and group shows, including A Taste of Chocolate at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2018) Garvey: Sex love Nurturing Famalay at Sadie Coles (2019) Mixing it Up: Painting Today at the Hayward Gallery (2021) and Tall boys and double shot expresso (2019) at Emalin Gallery, a presentation of work created as part of TtxAB, his ongoing collaboration with the painter Teresa Farrell. TtxAB is currently on view at The Lot at Rockaway with Blum and Poe/Mendes Woods DM. Barrington has also curated several exhibitions, including Artists I Steal From at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2019).


Born in Venezuela to Grenadian and Haitian migrant workers, Alvaro Barrington was raised between the Caribbean and Brooklyn, New York, by a network of relatives.


While Barrington currently considers himself primarily a painter, his artistic collaborations encompass exhibitions, performances, concerts, fashion, philanthropy and contributions to carnival and the Notting Hill Carnival in London. His approach to painting is similarly inclusive – embracing non-traditional materials and techniques such as burlap and sewing – and infused with references to his personal and cultural history.


Drawing on formative experiences such as his time in Grenada, Barrington creates richly textural mixed-media paintings on the burlap fabric used in Caribbean cacao production. The artist’s use of stitched yarn in paintings draws upon the traditionally gendered craft traditions passed down by the women in his family. His intimate compositions, rendered in a distinctive palette of reds, browns, yellows and greens, often focus on single subjects in close-up: tropical vegetation, abstracted portraits and body parts. Recurring motifs such as the hibiscus, the national flower of Jamaica, conjure a romanticized view of the Caribbean, one that no longer exists except in memory.


Influence and exchange are integral to Barrington’s work. He references personal touchstones including rapper Tupac, Mary J. Blige, 90s hip-hop culture, jazz and the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey, modernist icons such as Willem de Kooning and Louise Bourgeois, and his art-world peers. In his small-scale Date Paintings, Barrington considers different approaches to abstraction through the work of his predecessors including Paul Klee, Agnes Martin and Mark Rothko. Experimenting with the ‘logic’ found within these other artists’ work, Barrington translates it into his own idiom through simplified palettes, grid forms and expressive, bold brushstrokes.