Pioneering California-based conceptual artist John Baldessari has been making his way around New York this fall. Concurrently with his retrospective Pure Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Marian Goodman Gallery is entering its final week of Sediment (Part 2), an exhibition featuring a selection of the artist’s new painted works.
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The new exhibition interrogates the same notions of visual memory and fragmentation present in the artist’s earlier painted works. Over the last four years Baldessari has interested himself with the isolation of facial and bodily features, most famously noses and ears, which he felt spoke to the subjective nature of representation. In these works the artist privileged features that displayed visual interest, rather than those loaded with symbolism; he avoided depicting eyes and mouths, which, he claimed, were “given a lot of attention in art history.”
Utilizing the same flat silhouettes present in the work of Kara Walker, Sediment (Part 2) experiments with the hybridization of recognizable shapes (coats and chairs, arms and pillows, etc), in order to create new geometric forms. All paintings are presented simply in stark black, white and gray. Always interested in “process,” Baldessari’s layering techniques reflect the selection of images pulled from photographs and edited down to what he calls the “residue after everything has been strained out…. what is left is the art.”
John Baldessari, Bowl (With Vegetables), Vegetables, and Faucet, 2010.
The show at Marian Goodman is of particular interest as it features new work, unlike the current show at the Met, which tapers off with the artist’s 2001 photo-collages. With a career spanning several decades and encompassing nearly every artistic medium, Baldessari’s Sediment (Part 2) displays a return to the same concepts explored in his earlier work through new representational techniques.