Rushern Baker IV: "Immutable Fires"
Curated by Dexter Wimberly
Opening: Friday, April 11, 6-9pm
Exhibition dates: April 11 - May 25, 2014
Scaramouche is pleased to present Immutable Fires, the first New York solo exhibition by Rushern Baker IV. Baker's painted abstractions emerge from the chaotic world outside the canvas, in which urban and suburban environments are upended through steady degradation. Bricks, plaster, metal and cement form his landscapes, as the built environment dissolves within its composition. These abstracted forms permeate from within his sub-consciousness and the mind-space of his studio in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Fascinated by political theater and the socio-economic ramifications of domestic and foreign policy, Baker sites structural breakdown as a recurring theme within his practice. The spectacle of war intrigues him - shock and awe, the uncanny. To describe the unexplainable, Baker paints a characterization of this experience, seeking the art that emerges out of spontaneous combustion. The shards of exploding geometric forms and debris interwoven into clouds of smoke detach global conflict from real pain and devastation, illustrating the effect of combat void fatality.
Immutable Fires evokes the paradoxical feelings conveyed in the works - an auditory description of a predominately visual experience. The color choices play on both hot and cold elements, while immutability refers to the unchanging characteristics of the external concerns surrounding the work. Formed by a series of abstract paintings, the exhibition reflects the current epoch of geo-political turmoil, while simultaneously offering a portal into a world more meditative and organically structured. Baker's work is both an acknowledgement of his artistic antecedents and a brazen untethering from the spool of a certain kind of Black art-historic dogma.
Outside of political unrest, Octavia Butler's arresting fictional trilogy, most notably "Parable of the Sower," has constructed Baker's link to Black abstraction and artists such as Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Felrath Hines, and Jack Whitten. Expressive gestures from the New York School as well as Soviet Constructivist forms impact the work; each canvas is an edition of an ongoing battle, a saga of conflict and discontent. If these paintings can engage with the world today, it is through the complex feeling of derangement happening everywhere, every minute.
Rushern Baker IV (b. 1987, Washington, DC) lives and works in Prince George's County, MD. His work as been exhibited both in the U.S. and abroad, including exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), Brooklyn, NY; Reginald Ingraham Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Pirelli Tower, Milan, Italy; Motus Fort, and Koki Arts, both in Tokyo, Japan. He received his MFA from Yale University, along with the Elizabeth Canfield Hicks Award for outstanding achievement in drawing and painting. He is a Lecturer at the University of Maryland in the Department of Art.
Dexter Wimberly is an independent curator based in Brooklyn, NY. His exhibitions, lectures, and related art programs have been presented at numerous institutions including, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn Historical Society, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA), Savannah College of Art and Design, Brooklyn Arts Council, and LMCC in New York City.