John Baber and Maddy Rosenberg
John Baber’s recent paintings and collages reflect contemporary events, life and relationships. The exploration of painterly space and perspective is demonstrated in his portraits as he integrates real and imagined interiors. Images from the media including newspaper, vintage magazines, television and movies are brought into the picture plane. Nods to surrealism, pop, and DADA are apparent in his work; techniques of the old masters are in evidence in his painting process and tiny brushes and glazing are employed to achieve detail and heightened atmospheres. There is a sense of mystery in each painting, as the content attempts to capture the unexplainable-life after death, the origins of the universe, the loss of a friend gone too soon. Not all have such lofty aspirations: some aim to portray the buffoonery of our political system as it plays out in the media, others are sincere efforts to capture those in his life, and a few offer glimpses of those unforgettable moments in time. There is a sense of the absurd in content as he combines humor and reality in his subject matter. Baber’s new work encourages the viewer to consider life seriously, at first, but then to take a deep breath and maybe have a good laugh.
Maddy Rosenberg was born and lives in New York City, though she gathers imagery from the months each year she spends in Europe, as well as from other travels and source materials. She finds a particular attraction to the crumbling facades of gothic architecture, bearing the weight of time, and its gargoyle or grotesque details. However, newer 19th century New York buildings are aged enough to tell their own stories and mingle among their more ancient counterparts in her amalgam compositions. Her work has been greatly influenced by these urban environments and the memories encapsulated in the palimpsests of the layers of structures through centuries. Objects, images, and architectural details are reconfigured in seamlessly assembled compositions that result in a newly invented context and a fresh perspective. The juxtaposition of planes of saturated color with finely painted details more clearly defines the abstract nature of the paintings, while simultaneously emphasizing the evocativeness of the imagery. The images become more than mere depictions of reality, a hint of what once was, with the shapes of pure color a reminder of the identity of the painted surface. Rosenberg has worked with the ideas of multi-panel paintings for a number of years and the implied sequential narrative intrinsic to the form. With them, she creates close-ups of imagined spaces as if looking through a peephole, worlds that offers a reality – with a twist.
John Baber, originally from St. Paul, Minnesota has been exhibiting his work and curating shows in New York City since 2003. He is one of the original co-founders of JAVA studios in Brooklyn (former) and has shown his work there along with Local Project in Long Island City, ABC NO RIO, and Lesley Heller Workspace. His curatorial efforts include The Urban Situation at the Educational Alliance, The Jersey Show through The Art Student’s League of New York, the Holiday Salons at Lesley Heller Workspace, and most recently, Shangri-la at the Factory in Long Island City for the LIC Open Arts Festival in Queens. Institutions of education include the Atelier Lack in St. Paul, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and at Morris, the Art Students League of New York, and La Mano Pottery Center in New York City.
Maddy Rosenberg is an artist and curator who works in several media: oil painting, artist’s books, printmaking, drawing, toy theater and installation. She has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe, most recently a solo in San Antonio, Texas and a US Consulate funded project in Munich, Germany. She received an NEA for her 6 venue international curatorial project Dialog and founded CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space in 2009. Her work can be seen in numerous public collections, including National Museum of Women in the Arts, MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Fogg Museum, Yale University, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, London College of Communications, and the Salzburg Museum. Baylor University has acquired 18 of her artist’s books for the Maddy Rosenberg Artist’s Book Special Collection. She received a BFA from Cornell University and an MFA from Bard College.