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  JOHN BAUER Free-Floating Anxiety
  John Bauer
Opening: Friday March 21th   
from 8-10pm
March 21st - April 21st

335 Grand Street
Brooklyn NY 11211

Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, 12-6pm
and by appointment
Map & Directions

John Bauer John Bauer John Bauer John Bauer John Bauer John Bauer


For his second exhibition at Bellwether John Bauer will present three major paintings that continue to explore his unique interests in the relationships between art history and contemporary visual culture. He continues to explore the aesthetic of non-aesthetics, the generic, dated and dead abstraction generally associated with corporate lobbies, law offices or furniture showrooms.

The paintings, large in scale and painted in shades of dark gray and black with metallic accents, exude a sense of cool power. Bauer simultaneously upholds and undermines the mood of the work through his free sampling of visual motifs, art historical sources, and painting styles all infused with a critical humor. Bauer treats abstraction as another form of representation, such that all forms, marks, patterns, textures and their combinations contain embedded signifiers. This semiotic approach to painting is what gives the paintings a personal level of meaning beyond the purely decorative.

The way contradiction manifests itself within the paintings is integral to their meaning. Bauer's use of traditional materials like linen sized with rabbit skin glue and oil ground, mix with spray paint and lightning bolts. Lightning bolts create allusions to 1980's surf graphics, but further exploration also embeds them within the language of early modernist abstraction. Many of the shapes found within the paintings posses double signification, one avenue leading back into art history, the other into more current mass culture. This is one approach that Bauer takes in an attempt to update or take on the master works of a figure like Kandinsky.

As one attempts to remember, whether it is a favorite painting or a period of time from one's formative years, the picture grows cloudy. This foggy nature of memory gives Bauer's paintings humorous, strange and unexpected results. The artist mentions that he tries to remember what an abstract painting should look like. An obvious recipe for disaster! However, this disastrous process initiates a method of reflection on meaning that is both serious, yet seriously funny. The use of humor and irony also has a long history among painters from Goya to Picabia through California artists such as Ruscha and even early Hockney. Bauer's paintings readily associate with these other artists work, whether it is Goya's critical view of society and its institutions or Picabia's free use of "low" source material or Ruscha and Hockney's appropriation of the pop landscape.

John Bauer was born in San Diego, CA and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His drawings are currently included in the group exhibition Launched at Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York and other work was recently included in Proper Villains curated by David Hunt in New Haven, CT.

BELLWETHER is an artist-run space in support of emerging artists.