Brett Baker: Recent Paintings
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York
February 19 – March 28, 2015
I would like to invite Painters’ Table readers to the opening reception for an exhibition of my recent paintings at Elizabeth Harris Gallery in New York on Thursday, February 19, 2015.
Thank you for supporting Painters’ Table – hope to see you all at the show.
From the press release:
The Elizabeth Harris Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by Brett Baker. This will be the artist’s second exhibition with the gallery. The show will be up from February 19 to March 28, with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, February 19 from 6 – 8pm.
Baker’s abstract paintings have an intense materiality and sense of exploration. In each work, dense accumulations of vertical and diagonal strokes of oil paint organize in tightly packed rows. Each mark relates to the next through subtle transitions of close valued color ranging from bright, saturated hues to more muted earth tones. Mark and color, woven together, compress the roughly hewn surface into a unified image.
Although the physicality of paint and an insistent grid are constants, Baker’s most recent paintings reflect the artist’s increasing interest in how perception deepens the spatial and expressive potential of abstraction. Notations of local color and suggestions of observed light sourced from the artist’s studio surroundings undermine and “deform” the grid at various intervals. The resulting points of tension disrupt the picture plane, crumpling the surface into a continuous, spatial fabric. Baker makes abstract visual language more concrete by reestablishing its relationship to the natural world, yet he does so through its defined vocabulary so the paintings never relapse into description.
The artist writes: “It is the reality expressed through painting that moves me: the breeze that structures Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party; the ‘scorched… blistering heat’ of Van Gogh’s orange; space without distance in Soutine. Greenberg lamented that Soutine’s painting was ‘more like life itself than visual art.’ I understand what he means, and that is exactly where I would like to be.”
In a recent response to the work, Addison Parks observed: “These are wonderful paintings! Thatched. Thatcher. Channeling Monet haystacks, van Gogh wheat. Great texture, the troughs of paint, furrowed, loaded, the way they build, the way they break free, shifting the narrative from north south east west and slanting toward a horizon. Marching. Beating out rhythms. African drums. Really sumptuous and beautiful to behold. Fields and forests of color like embers.They have something of the atheist about them, the atheist that is also a stargazer, and therefore maybe more believer than believer. It also comes through in the paint. Each stroke a kind of hopeful order, making room for deviations, an affirmation in a crazy mixed-up world.”
Brett Baker earned an MFA in Painting from Boston University and his awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship. In addition to being an artist, he is the editor of Painters’ Table (painters-table.com), an online painting magazine and he also writes frequently about art. His recent subjects include Pat Passlof, Chaim Soutine, George Braque, and Nicolas De Staël.