In his films, videos, and sculptural installations, Matthew Barney's primary interest has been the transformation and metamorphosis of the physical body. In elaborate, ritualized performances Barney uses a highly developed visual language to address such themes as endurance, androgyny, autoeroticism, and spectacle.
Drawing Restraint 7 is part of Barney's ongoing interest in self-imposed restraint. He creates conditions in which it is an extreme challenge to draw on a surface, then attempts to do just that, stressing the notion that form cannot develop without resistance. Barney first experimented with this principle in Drawing Restraint 2, where he strapped himself to an elaborate harness and vaulted up to a pad of paper attached to the ceiling in an attempt to make marks.
In this work, two cloven-hoofed satyrs wrestle in the back seat of a stretch limousine, trying to force each other to make images with their horns in the condensation on the limo's sunroof. Barney's interest in Greco-Roman mythology is apparent in this video installation, and the artist himself plays the young satyr with budding horns who spins endlessly in pursuit of his own tail. This work can be read not only as an extension of Barney's ideas about physical metamorphosis, but as a metaphor for the seemingly endless struggle of the artist.