Gary Barnes, a.k.a Trojan, was born in Croydon in 1966. He was notably a fully-fledged trigger in the 1980s club scene and an underground fashion icon – he certainly made his mark on the era. Trojan tragically passed away in 1986 at only 20 years old from a drug overdose. Although his work is not prolific, there's a real sense of experimentation and progression of ideas; each piece holds a story with more expansive depth than many of us can imagine.  

When entering the ICA, I wondered where the curator would place Trojan, Works on paper. There only being a few small pieces, it occurred to me one must be very careful not to let the work be lost in such a grand space. But the hanging was perfect: a small basement-like room with five-foot bar-like white lights standing lazily against the wall, creating a relaxed underground environment. One wall was plastered with rich blue and contrasting magnolia yellow Star Trek wallpaper, and on it were typed up quotations from friends and Trojan himself, the most memorable "Artist and Prostitute".  

Hanging on this wall is a painting. Experimental and surrealist, the base is pale yellow and textured with subtle wavy creases; lime green and dried blood-brown streaks are layered on top coming into warm tonal shapes dusted with dirt. Standing at the centre of the image is a fluorescent pink face: initially two-dimensional, it's brought to life with simple spotted blue eyes and strong but happy hard-handed features in natural brown. The figure itself is holding a bottle of champagne, the label itself peeled from a real bottle. Bowery once said "Trojan hates imitation, unless they were tacky ones": this idea of commodity is humorous, and perhaps the champagne is the trigger for the subject's wide smile. Particularly eye catching in this painting is its condition: Trojan has placed four strategic cuts into the canvas, and then sewn it back together with thick molten brown wool. Does this show the frustration Trojan had with the piece and the process he undertook for it to feel complete? Or are the stitches a metaphor for Trojan's nurturing of his work, and healing criticism? Either way, the stitches look good, giving another layer to the piece so that it becomes engrossing.

The right wall certainly caught the most attention: plain white with hundreds of assorted photographs of Trojan and friends. There were some self-portraits showcasing Trojan in a Nan Goldin style shot, adorned in golden trinkets, elaborate sunken velvet hats and an Edward Scissorhands-meets-Robert Mapplethorpe-meets Boy George intrigue. His work definitely has sex appeal; the portraits have the resemblance of a peacock spreading its beautiful and marvelling feathers to entice people in. Others had been worked into with brash captivating metallic pen, transforming portraits from skin into other worldly primary shapes, which reminded me of Ouka Leele's striking portraits. Juxtaposing these visually exciting images were a series of black and white photo booth snaps taken of Trojan, and sometimes Bowery, in an iconic and simple form. The photographs project a different perspective, showing them as young men away from the glitz and glam – which was profoundly endearing.

Standing at both edges of the room are two white rectangular boxes elevated from the floor. One is full of Trojan's surreal set design photographs for Hail the new Puritan. Surrealist and Dali-esque, they included floating pale eggs, flying pants and lolling half lemons hanging in the air, accompanied by an array of stiff dancers all dressed in black. The other box is filled with self-portraits: Trojan dressed as a sort of ragamuffin with red experimental cartoons inked on his motionless face. He's dressed in a loosely-knitted torn jumper with the exposed price tag of £20, on his head is a droopy, sunken, carpeted floral hat and on his legs dark are loose orange pants.

Finally, taking up an entire wall are Trojan's drawings largely created as outlines for paintings. On the whole they are humorous, intelligent and expansive. I spotted his plan for a set design involving fried eggplants nestled next to a surreal forest-green pastel drawing of a one-eyed man with neck breasts, injecting an oversized mammal on a street made of swirls.  Framed are newspaper cut-outs with exposed brown tape and initial drawings, all with footnotes and reminders of detail to add once painted. One can't help but feel a pang of sadness when looking at this wall of unfinished ideas.

Overall I'd highly recommend Trojan, Works on paper. Compressed into only a handful of works is evidence of a multi-talented man, creating brave visually exciting works of art at an age where many artists hadn't even picked up a pen.  

Trojan, Works on Paper, at ICALucy Porter reviews Trojan: Works on Paper at the ICA.4