NEW YORK, NY (February 2, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Walking through Walls, new works by Los Angeles-based artist Gary Baseman, in what will be his second solo exhibition at the gallery, and first solo show in New York in six years.
As the title suggests, works in Walking through Walls convey the concept of breaking through imposed limitations and boundaries, in society as well as the art world. Visually, Baseman emphasizes “the wall” through a floral wallpaper motif, compositional divisions of space and the transcendence of his subjects between mediums. While previous exhibitions have been festive and celebratory in nature, Baseman’s work takes a more reflective, somber tone in this show. With the recent passing of his father, the artist’s deep sense of loss has resulted in darker, subdued colors, adding shades of gray to his previously bright palette.
In the new series of work, Baseman introduces a figure named Lil Miss Boo, a young girl wearing a homemade ghost costume. The character is based on a child in an old black and white photograph, one of over 2000 vintage photographs of masked subjects in the artist’s personal collection, garnered over the last 20 years. The collection has often been a source of creative inspiration. This exhibition marks the first time Baseman incorporates imagery from his photo collection into his paintings, through elements of collage and silkscreen.
In this exhibition, Baseman explores the maturation of objective childlike naivety into the subjective adult understanding of absolute beliefs in ideals such as truth, love, hope, faith, fate and responsibility. His ghost and skeleton children evoke nostalgia of childhood memories, and support the overarching theme of mortality in relation to growth, identity, personal development and transformation. Among several archetypes, the artist makes references to Golem—a Jewish folktale of anthropomorphic beings made of mud which can be animated by inscribing the word emet (Hebrew for truth) on their forehead, and killed by removing the first letter of the word, to become met (meaning death).
Gary Baseman was born in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, where he currently resides. In 1982, he received a BA from UCLA in Los Angeles. He works in fine art, illustration, toy design and film/television. Hi works has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Taipei, Bristol, Barcelona, Berlin and São Paulo. In 2013, his first museum survey, Gary Baseman: The Door is Always Open, was held at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, a catalog of the exhibition was published by Rizzoli. He also recently had an installation at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, a two-man show at Laguna Art Museum and a performance at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). He is the creator and executive producer of Teacher’s Pet, a critically acclaimed animated series and film, winner of multiple Emmy awards. Baseman’s work can be seen in The New Yorker, TIME Magazine, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and on the best-selling board game Cranium.