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 Kristin Baker  (1975 - )

About: Kristin Baker


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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: acrylic abstract auto-racing themed painting, prints, assemblage, photography

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BIOGRAPHY for Kristin Baker
1975 (Stamford, Connecticut)
New York/Massachusetts

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acrylic abstract auto-racing themed painting, prints, assemblage, photography

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Kristin Baker is bending painting's seeming limitations. By emphasizing the materiality of paint through her built up layers of troweled acrylic, Baker's paintings approach other two-dimensional practices such as printmaking, photography and paper assemblage. While upholding the power and dynamism of painting, Baker seeks to create a third dimension in between many genres and hindered by none.

Her compositions combine illusionistic and pictorial space as well as blatantly artificial forms and surfaces. Each mark and shape is created not by a brush but by an outline of torn tape. The final silhouette is filled in with paint, and when the tape is ripped away, a free-floating "gesture" or "mark" is added to the piece. These shapes are layered together to make forms and landscapes or scraped away to reveal the colors underneath. Layers of these joints create tufts, grooves and corrugated surfaces that approximate collage or even the planar aggregation of 3D digital imaging techniques. Using scraping tools Baker rubs, abrades and smoothes until the surface is like an x-ray of the past.

Kristin Baker graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and received an M.F.A. from Yale in 2002. Her work was presented in a solo exhibition at the MNAM Centre Pompidou in 2004. Deitch Projects presented her first solo exhibition, Flat Out, in September of 2003.  Most recently she has been commissioned by the Denver Art Museum to create an artwork responding to the Daniel Libskind architecture. It will be featured in the exhibition Embrace! opening November 14, 2009.

Deitch Projects:

Biography from Saatchi Gallery:
Kristin Baker paints for the thrill of the moment. Encouraged by her love of automotive racing, her large-scale abstractions appropriate every essence of high-octane drive.

Suggesting the view from a Formula 1 car, Washzert Suisse advances with split-second tension: planes of translucent hues overlap as fragments of speeding light, freezing adrenaline rush as an aesthetic sublime. Using the unlikely subject of mechanical perfection as a metaphor for painting, Baker's work explores the limits of commitment, focus, and endurance, her canvases poetically capturing an ambience of glamour and spirituality.

For Kristin Baker the act of painting is analogous to speedway racing: the dual pursuits for the pinnacle of excellence conjoining as parallel "coliseums" of chance and glory. Drawing relations to the commodified spectacle of sport, Baker's Kurtoplac Kurve replicates the industrial design of the racetrack in its making. Rendered on panels mounted on a bleacher-like support, its curved structure mirrors a hairpin turn.  Built up in a series of stencilled layers, Baker rarely paints with a traditional brush, but rather a combination of spray gloss and spatula sign-painting techniques, mimicking both billboard advertising and body shop finishes; her resulting abstraction draws reference to both modernism and consumer spectacle.

Kristin Baker's Ride The Lightning uses abstraction as a parallel for action.  Inspired by motor racing culture, Baker's work conveys all the dynamism of this macho arena: greasy, dirty, violent, and infinitely sexy. Painted on PVC, her ultra-sleek surface exudes both power and breakdown. Embedding stylised and graphic forms within a grid-like pattern, Baker references both cubism and futurism. Each square containing the charge of a freeze-frame explosion, haloed by dispersing clouds of light and smoke, Baker captures the unequivocal sensation of a single moment as a lingering, reverberated energy.

Painted on PVC, Kirsten Baker's Excide Batteries Beer a Sphere reworks the plastic associations of media spectacle with painterly flourish. Applied with scrapers and palette knives instead of brushes Baker's colours slide over the ultra smooth surface in transparent blurs and crystalline shapes, conveying the thunderous energy of stadium sport with both jubilance and trepidation. Grounds of electrifying pink and green become devoured and tarnished by greasy greys and dark oily clouds, fragmenting the scene into refractive prisms reminiscent of the sanctified aura of stained glass.

Using formalist abstraction reminiscent of Moholy-Nagy or Malevich, Baker's The Unfair Advantage updates ideas of technology and painting. Through carefully balanced composition, geometric shards of colour hover in freeze-framed motion, and diffused translucent puddles read as lens flare, explosions, and gaseous haloes. Balancing the illusions of hard-edged solidity and the weightlessness of light, Baker creates a spatial deception implicative of film or digital media. Working with industrial materials and sign painting techniques Baker's process fuses artistic engagement with mass media asserting futuristic ethos.

In The Raft Of Perseus, Kirstin Baker's subject changes from car racing to Greek mythology, though the connotations to abstract painting remain the same: adventure and risk translating to the stuff of legend.  Picturing Perseus's banished raft thrashing amidst the raging sea, Baker's work operates as an analogy for the loneliness and heroism of artistic pursuit. Rendered in the pastoral blues and golds of religious painting, Baker captures the essence of challenge and success with stylised flourish. The solid geometric beams of the raft float in contrast to the water's organic currents and the translucent light of the sky, creating a sense of staidness in the turbulent motion.

Kirstin Baker's Big Bang Vroom revamps the glamour of motor sport as a composition of eloquent design. Using the mimetic qualities of paint, greys smear and sputter across her smooth PVC surface replicating the burnt rubber of skidding tires and swells of tarry smoke. Baker juxtaposes these spontaneous gestures against the meticulous graphics of the abstracted car and grandstand, accentuating the tension between precision, control, speculation, and danger.

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