The Elizabeth Harris Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Brett Baker titled the beauty at hand. This will be the artist's fourth exhibition with the gallery. The show will be up from January 4 to February 15, 2020. An opening reception for the artist will be held Saturday, January 11, from 3-6 pm.
Over the past decade, Baker has developed a body of work characterized by visceral physicality achieved through an intense fusion of color and drawing. Over this time, his process has remained consistent. The artist layers vertical and diagonal marks in grids of pure color slowly, yet decisively, modulating their interplay over time. Writing about Baker’s work in 2019, fellow painter Matt Klos remarked: “Baker’s untidy grids and networks of bejeweled tones are made by multiple painterly applications over weeks and months… Baker’s process nods towards the artist’s own discoveries as each painting unfolds, merging both discovery and mastery into one tiny world.”
Baker’s “untidy grids” function as primary structures to register and order impressions of his subjects, but they are also challenged by these subjects. The artist’s recent subject matter — specific views from his kitchen and bedroom windows — threatens to overtake the grid, resulting in subtle but significant departures from earlier works. Densely packed marks of saturated color still dominate, but adjacent marks often accrete into distinct shapes of open color. Deep shadow and full sun conspire, yet ultimately fail, to poke holes in the picture plane. In several works, curves echo the dense palm fronds that dominate the artist’s kitchen view. Yet the grid’s organizing energy persists. It asserts and re-asserts itself as a check on emerging nameable forms. The tension yields a deeper impression of the subject matter while remaining free of its signs.
The show’s title, the beauty at hand, refers both to the artist’s response to his immediate surroundings and to the intimate, personal experience of looking at paintings. It also reflects his belief that painting (both making and viewing) is an act of presence, an experiential inquiry into the beauty at hand.
Brett Baker lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina. He earned an MFA in Painting from Boston University and his awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been featured and reviewed in The New York Review of Books, The New Criterion, Two Coats of Paint and many other blogs and publications. In addition to being an artist, he is the editor of Painters’ Table (painterstable.com), an online painting magazine; he also writes about art.