Camden Arts Centre presents an exhibition of Jo Baer’s most recent series of paintings, ‘In the Land of the Giants’. The latest series, developed since 2009, reflects on the artist’s life-long interest in history and science. Inspired by Palaeolithic cave paintings, Baer saw in these ancient marks, with their instilled meaning, a midway between abstraction and figuration. Depicting esoteric and evocative imagery from her years living in the remote countryside of County Louth (Ireland). Springs, stone alignments and phases of the moon are montaged against a backdrop of vast rolling green landscapes; the works trace her fascination in Neolithic innovation, eschatology and the sublime, whilst mapping convergences between humans and nature, and timelines of thought and memory.
Amsterdam based, American artist Baer is considered one of the key figures in the Minimalist art movement in New York during the 1960s and early 1970s. The artist’s paintings were characterised by precise composition of line and space and Baer’s distinctive use of the peripheries of the canvases. The artist describes her early ambition as “poetic objects that would be discrete yet coherent, legible yet dense, subtle yet clear.” In 1983, she dramatically announced ‘I am no longer an abstract artist’, turning towards figuration and symbolic imagery, fragmenting familiar images in order to render them discomforting.
This exhibition draws a lineage from her earlier minimalist works, through Baer’s experiments with the figurative in the 1990s, through to the artist’s current emboldened aesthetic. It brings attention to her continued consideration of composition as a means of stimulating an active way of looking, drawing the gaze back and forth across compositions and the canvas as a delineation of time.
Jo Baer was born in Seattle in 1929 and now lives and works in Amsterdam. Her works are part of various public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate London and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main. Her most recent solo shows were at Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven (2009), Secession Vienna (2008), the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Ludwig Museum in Cologne (2013). Baer took part in the Busan Biennale in 2012 and the 31st São Paulo Biennale.
Jo Baer: Towards the Land of the Giants – Camden Arts Centre – until 21 June 2015