August 28 – October 23, 2021
August 27, 2021
We are very pleased to present the solo exhibition Flowers by US-American artist Donald Baechler in our Berlin gallery. On display are 35 paintings that bridge the gap between his early works from the 1980s and his most recent artistic productions.
Donald Baechler was born in 1956 in Hartford, Connecticut and has been known as an important representative of the American Neo-Expressionist and Post-Pop Art movement for almost four decades. With clear, powerful lines he fixes depictions of simple objects onto what appears to be a flat background. Drawing attention to the fore, the cut-out quality of the images overshadows what lies hidden underneath the richly textured backdrop. Layer by layer, he aligned, fused, reduced, and coated over the pictorial elements of the image until it became the still life floating untethered within its borders.
„The ghost of the earlier version is always there, underneath the paint, along the edges. Sometimes you can see it and sometimes you cannot, but you can sense it in the repetition and slight changes along the edges. They are not just black paintings on a white-grey background. The black is in the white and not on the white. The image is in the painting,” Baechler explains.
Galerie Crone first showed a solo exhibition by Donald Baechler in 1985. Flowers is a continuation of this exhibition in which five works that were on view then are juxtaposed to his latest series portraying variations of flowers and flowers arrangements. Illustrating the ways in which he has remained true to his artistic intentions and stylistics, the show reflects the influences and changes he has impressively managed to take up and transform into a persevering visual language over time.
In his choice of motifs, he focuses on two subjects: faces and heads on the one hand, and everyday, otherwise disregarded objects such as flowers, trees, vases, ice cream cones, balls, and pots on the other. Interested in the “pile of things” as Baechler describes it himself, he bases his choice on an inventory of popular images, photographs of wall drawings, street signs and receipts he gathers while traveling, and drawings made by his assistants and strangers he encountered in bars and restaurants. Accumulating these thousands of visual materials, he discerns their graphic patterns and then reduces the chosen motif to its purest form.
Following a structured architectural syntax while remaining mobile and receptive to the unknown, the ‘action of the line’ endows the subjects with an iconographic character. Opening and closing into thick, solidly rendered forms, the line charts the canvas with an energy that does not want to have its path predetermined.
Baechler’s rigorous brushstrokes exalt a precise poetic choice that expresses more than the traditional “still life” adorning the cozy household. He exaggerates and trivializes the subject, plays with the fascination of the ugly and the beautiful and thus gives things a very special power of effect. Neither representing an external reality, manifesting the poetics of his organic approach nor making reference to the consolation of his memory, the line represents the anonymous and unsettling beginning of a story.
Animating what may be a blank page in the artist’s personal diary or the thought and spirit of our imagination, the flower motif can link to a personal set of memories or constitute a moment of suspension. It is as good of a subject as any other — a flower is a flower, just as a face is a face. Rich in aesthetic opportunities, familiar to the everyman and possible to restrict in its outward meaning, Baechler’ aims at the absolute clarity and pure existence of the object. With no compulsion towards eternity, rhetoric, or psychology, he achieves a sophisticated artistic oeuvre that is defined by the freedom and accuracy of his intuition.
Donald Baechler studied at the Maryland Institute-Collage of Art in Baltimore, at Cooper Union in New York and at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Frankfurt am Main. He lives and works in New York. His work has been shown in numerous museums around the world and is held in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Whitney Museum of New York, the Guggenheim Museum New York, the Centre Pompidou Paris, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.