New York, NY
November 21-December 10
This story was featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Avid fans of Casey Baugh’s paintings are in for some surprises when they attend the opening of his new show at Arcadia Contemporary on November 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. “The works that Casey is creating for this exhibition will not be like anything collectors have seen from him before,” says gallery director Steve Diamant. “Gone are the dreamy, romantic women in color-field environments.”
In their place are some 16 oils and 8 to 10 charcoal drawings that, according to Baugh himself, aim to “represent metaphorically the dynamic relationship between today’s society and all the technology and social media that surround us.” By way of example, he cites ENGULFED, a canvas featuring a sleepy-looking young woman attempting to emerge from a sea of tangled black wires. “We all know that overwhelming feeling of waking up and there’s the phone and the computer and 15 emails to answer.”
Not everything in the show, however, casts the modern electronic age in a pessimistic light. Another painting, GLOW, shows a woman peacefully resting in a fetal position in a birdlike nest of wires, her hands grasping a bulb that illuminates her face with a golden glow. The message here, says Baugh, is that “even though we are surrounded by all this technology, if we hold true to our roots and convictions, there is still hope for us.”
Despite this dramatic departure, one strong link remains to past works by the 20-something, Brooklyn-based artist, a disciple of master realist Richard Schmid: They depict gorgeous women, rendered with an enthralling sense of presence in a style Baugh sums up as “narrative impressionistic realism.” He explains, “People are more open to stories through beauty. But, for me, it’s not all about the beauty. I like a painting that challenges you.”
The particular challenges presented by this new show trace back to an early interest that, for many years, competed for Baugh’s attention with his largely self-taught talent for art. “My first passion, the thing I wanted to do most, was to be an electrical engineer,” he says. “But I had the impression I had to put all that aside for painting. Now, by painting and making a few statements about the world we live in today, I’m going back to those roots and combining my two passions.”
Regardless of the subject, Baugh follows a meticulous process to create each ravishing image. First, he brainstorms ideas through thumbnail sketches. Next, he works them up to more polished, storyboard-style compositions. After casting models who will help him realize his vision, he builds his own sets, hires wardrobe, hair, and makeup artists, and then paints color studies and takes reference photos “to grab all of the little impressions it’s impossible to capture in a long pose.” At last, he pulls all his reference materials together to execute a few “practice paintings,” followed by the final canvas.
All those efforts, plus the ever-growing demand for Baugh’s works, lead to prices that will be in the $8,000 to $30,000 range for the oils, depending on size and complexity. Diamant expects them to go quickly, adding, “Most of Casey’s past exhibitions have sold out.” —Norman Kolpas
Featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download
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