December 7, 2019 — January 4, 2020
New York is an old growth forest of American culture that is being clear-cut for the new generation of cash crops. At least, that’s the story that Jeff Baker’s photographs tell. They’re also images that illustrate the rich gesture-as-color quality that a photographic print can produce. They are walls, tattooed and claimed by the masses, brandished with the grit that the city is known for. This body of work, about 5 years in the making, has achieved that parity that every artist strives for in their career: the parity of meaning and form.
This body of work began as an effort from the artist to try to capture the cogent whispers of the street artists, splayed chaotically among the many layers of paint that dress the city. Over time, the compositions would grow inwardly contemplative. Thoughtful fields of color that can’t be recreated in paint.
Jeff Baker was born in Dallas, Texas on August 21, 1952. He found himself in Gary Winogrand’s photography courses at UT Austin in the mid 1970s, listening to and being critiqued by Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Larry Fink and John Szarkowski among others, who came to lecture. Honing his craft through 35 years of editorial and advertising assignments, he continually worked on personal projects, including large-format ethnographic studies in South America and Indonesia, landscapes informed by the relationship of man to his surroundings, and still-lifes of industrial-age tools that reference the personalities of their inventors. His later work looks at urban encryption as a means of communication within a neighborhood’s core population and more recently, he has been abstracting those elements to concentrate on color, form and gesture, giving new life to those public communications. Baker lives and works in Taos, New Mexico.