Shaheen Modern & Contemporary, Cleveland, OH
May 19 – July 27, 2012
Jimmy Baker’s Holding Pattern consists of eight paintings completed over the past eight months that result from a complex multi-phase layering process incorporating both painting and digital printing. The title of the exhibition refers to a cyclical limbo between action and rest and, in this case, a variety of opposing visual and conceptual dualities that exist in both Baker’s most recent paintings and his larger artistic practice to date. To begin his working process, Baker lays down 2-3 layers of paint to create large compositional elements and divide the pictorial space. From there, he culls hundreds of images from a wide variety of sources and arranges them in Photoshop to form a dense collage, which he then reduces until clear forms take shape. Baker then returns to the canvas, where he typically applies 3-7 additional layers of paint that both riff off of and work against aspects of the collage and form a dense painterly surface. After that, the entire canvas is run through a large format digital printer, where portions of the digital collage are printed overtop the accumulated paint. To complete the painting, Baker sands, glazes, pours, scrapes and brushes paint over the entire surface of the work to synthesize the printing into the painted layers. Although strong conceptual and thematic consistencies course through Baker’s entire body of work to date, the visually dense and cacophonous paintings that comprise Holding Pattern are marked by their materiality; visual profusion; bright, acidic palette; looser application of paint; heightened tension between image and object, and representation and abstraction that stand in stark visual contrast to the tightly rendered portraits and landscapes that defined Baker’s earlier work. Impastoed surfaces intermingle and fuse with over- and underlying digitally printed imagery and tight, almost photo-realistic passages of paint, as vestiges of figures and other representational elements emerge from and recede into fields of gestural, painterly mark making. The dense juxtaposition and collision of imagery that drives Baker’s working process and resulting paintings echoes and embodies a logic of non-linear thinking that permeates current modes of information exchange, visual production and consumption. As Baker pushes the visual overload to the point of collapse and destruction, the paintings begin to echo the often perilous real world tensions, power struggles, and models of infinite economic growth that have driven recent global political, cultural and environmental events and defined history at the onset of the 21st century.