claire anna baker
August 3 - August 6, 2017
Claire Anna Baker makes drawings and paintings from observation that present as abstractions. She turns gesture on its head; as opposed to quickly or improvisationally executed expressive marks, hers are meditated, calculated, structured, and slow.
This series of new paintings considers shades of difference while simultaneously seizing opposition, a notion philosophically inherent to ancient Chinese ink painting. White versus black, dark versus light, empty versus full, stillness versus movement; all delicately balanced extremes that create ardent tension, catastrophe, and resolution between binaries. Marks, with dense black edges, sheer grey spreads, and opaque white ruptures create planes of high contrast. Modulation of surface, layers of touch with varied, detailed line work and pattern, and subtle hues emerge slowly but vividly from lightness and darkness. Together the works buzz, amplifying the distinct physical, sensorial, and rhythmic structures of each.
While opposition and rhythm have always been present in Baker’s work, this series is a heightened, explicit, and more complex exploration. She continues to hone her practice and her language, relying on the tautness of her stretched, synthetic surface and a harder-edged relationship through knife and ink application, rather than brush and ink. This body of work, based in observation, also employs considered translation; the artist first draws from an actual landscape, in this case from massive boulders dotting the mountains high up in Southern California’s desert alpine wilderness. She goes back to the studio and, informed by a series of self-selected art historical texts and cultural references, creates an installation with refuse; she draws from it for over a year. This installation, for the first time, is suspended from her studio’s ceiling, referencing the weight perched in the sky she experienced in the mountains. The diversely tactile and teeming mass of material dangles downward, rootless in the air; tubes of light puncture and emerge from within. The fullness of feeling derived from the artist’s prolonged observation and absorption of the installation is transformed and translated, such that the experience of landscape is visceral and palpable in each painting.
Claire Anna Baker (b. 1983, Berkeley, CA) received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008 and her BA from Brown University in 2005. In 2017, her monumental painting Congruence Is was acquired by the Rose Art Museum’s Sam Hunter Emerging Artists Fund Acquisition Committee. She lives and works in Los Angeles.