Rugged Elegance by
Mike Baur and
On Display: July 16, 2012 – September 17, 2012
Artist Reception –July 20, 2012 5-7pm
Weight, stability and permanence are important to me; this must be why industrial components, architectural forms and landscapes have always influenced my work. Combining steel and concrete has become a lifelong approach to building form; while often bringing into the mix plastics, wood and stone to expand on this foundational dialogue. I intentionally leverage the implied utility that industrial materials possess while avoiding the literal. My current sculpture continues the visual themes I have been developing for over 30 years. My work begins with the considerations that all construction requires, but my goal is to arrive beyond formalistic concerns where the common materials I use eclipse their origins. The unique power of the three-dimensional object is always paramount.
My intermittent experiences of the red land of Australia became central to my art after visiting the Kimberley region in 2007 (NW corner of the continent). I returned home with samples of soil and rock whose colors had intrigued me for more than forty years. These packets of dirt, in effect, for me, proved to be lightning in a bottle. I now work with a large variety of ochres (also called earth pigments or mineral oxides) ranging in color from white to yellow, orange, red, brown to black, the color of each depending on the impurities of the mineral oxide. In addition to Australian ochres, I use earth pigments mined in France, Italy, Germany, America and India. I add water and a little binder to the dry pigments and paint on a variety of materials including found paper, polypropylene, canvas, and most recently burned wood; each of the surfaces resulting in the ochre behaving differently; including its color. An elemental form, the arch or mound (perhaps an echo of the termite mound's powerful impact on the Kimberley landscape) is the building block of the compositions. The water based medium allows the different pigments to exhibit their own characteristics, their own fingerprint, like flow and patterns of reticulation. The way different pigments meet, mix or establish a border is unpredictable and the physics of this process is intentionally allowed to leave its mark.
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