What is my work about?
My paintings are small heavily worked abstractions; they are built slowly. They are expansive moments contained in a compressed space. They are a result of a series of involved actions: sewing, carving wood, embroidery, framing, but always buried in oil paint. I find difficult surfaces to be an interesting problem to work against and important as it captures the passing of time in the many layers that compose them, and the collection of participatory energy and action. I work against the mountainous surface I have composed. The work references the body and history, both personal and world history. Symbols are important to my work. The paintings are a search for archetypal symbols that may be buried inside the collective psyche, as well as an exploration of assigning symbols to my investigation of the human condition.
I believe painting to be a conglomeration of time and experience, and my paintings record intentional and chance-driven activities, creating a kind of compacted evidence of my understandings, memories, and physicality.
My canvases evoke the body. In my work, I deal with the body as a container, a shell. The paintings are like hides; sometimes the way paint is handled references hides with all the imperfections: scars, bumps, pores, orifices. Skin demarks what is outside from what is inside; the paintings wear a heavy shell but they allow the viewer a peak at the internal.
Sometimes orifices are illustrated as in the case of image 1. Sometimes they are punctures in the surface of an image (as in the case of image 5), revealing both the wall behind the painting and the layers that comprise the painting. There are also smiles, lashes, eyes, tears that occur in the work.
Encountering the surfaces of my paintings, one encounters bodies that have been affected and wear the scarring. Paintings are surrogates for the stigmatized, demonized, condemned, and inferior but at the same time they are often the exoticized, eroticized, fetishized and objectified.
These paintings are constructed slowly over time, considered, reworked, encrusted. They talk about an uneasy kind of beauty: unsettling and even repulsive.
Doubling and symmetry is a constant in the work. I say something, and then I say it again. I restate in order to highlight my commitment to that very shape, that very sentence. It is also about coupling: the strength and symbolism of two. Doubling references pages of a book. I grew up with a reverence for literature. In the Soviet Union where I was born, books were hard to come by; they were precious cargo. When my family immigrated to the US in early 90s, books were some of the only items we took with us. Books were rare and precious precisely because that is how bits of truth and openness seeped into otherwise rather brainwashed Soviet mentality.
As in image 6, I use marks to signify a system of writing. It is a reference to painting as a language of communication but also to writing as a record of knowledge, of the scared, the poetic, and the personal.
The layering of surfaces highlights my interest in history, in unearthing and covering, in constructing, and retelling: personal history and world history alike. I am interested in the trace of human activity: a shirt of a loved one hanging on an arm chair after they left, the piles of bones remaining on a dinner table after a great conversation and a meal. That is how I know an event actually happened. There is something concrete in the debris—proof. Similarly with painting; it is proof that I moved, traced, sprayed, performed: that I marked time and commemorated.
For me, the paintings convey the feeling of excavation, burying, and resurfacing; they are unearthed archeological objects.
Over the past two years all my paintings are 16” x 20”, the reason being that I want a feeling of compression to be communicated through the work. When I make these paintings I can handle them any which way: I can turn them easily, I can hug them, layer them, cover their territory. I hope for vastness and depth to be contained in a small space; these are pregnant moments. They are portrait size paintings. The head is where feelings are produced; it is the ruling mechanism of the body. It is it’s motor. Their size implies intimacy. I touch the painting everywhere, like a cutlet fully rolled in breadcrumbs, I brush into all the corners of the object. I visit all the crevices, and my brush invites every cell of the painting into the conversation.
My paintings are a search for archetypal symbols that may be buried inside the collective psyche, as well as the exploration of assigning symbols to my investigation of the human condition. Specifically, my symbolical investigations consider; the landscape, the body as a shell, closeness, division, burdens, coupling, guilt, lack of understanding, and loneliness. For me, symbolism is a way celebrate the mystery.
2007 The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA, Painting and Drawing;
Recipient of Graduate Honors Fellowship
2003 University of Pennsylvania, BA, Fine Arts and Psychology; MS, Education
Graduated Cum Laude
2001 University of London, Slade School of Fine Arts
SOLO AND TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS
Hide: Yevgeniya Baras and Leeza Meksin. Adds Donna, Chicago, IL
Blue of Black. GrizzleGrizzly, Philadelphia,PA
There Has Always Been Something Exasperating About My Gifts: Yevgeniya Baras and Dana DeGulio. Roots and Culture. Chicago, IL
A Geometric Destiny. Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, IL
Yevgeniya Baras and Harold Mendez. Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL
Over Time. Fox Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Heart’s Gymnastics. Outpost Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Meanwhile, Back at The Farm. 195 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Group Exhibition, Honey Ramka, Brooklyn, NY
By Invitation Only 3. Curated by Renee Riccardo. Kinz + Tillou Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY
The Last Brucennial. New York, NY
Lamar Dodd Gallery, “New Threads”, Athens, GA
Caving. Honey Ramka, Brooklyn, NY
Lets Get Physical. Curated by Rick Briggs. Ventana244, Brooklyn, NY
See with Fingers. Curated by Laurel Sparxx. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
Building Materials. Curated by Lucas Blalock and James Hyde.Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
Split 7. Curated by Matt Phillips. Folwer Arts, New York, NY
Two River. One River Gallery, Englewood, NJ
Digital Dye Hard. Curated by Leeza Meksin. Ortega Y Gasset Projects, New York, NY
Encounter. Zurcher Gallery, New York, NY
Stones Bones and Relics. Curated by Anna Mikhailovskaia. Brooklyn Fireproof, Brooklyn, NY
Centaurs and Satyrs. Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, NY.
Materiality. Allegra LaViola Gallery, New York, NY
Domesticities. Bull and Ram, New York, NY
Foreign Bodies. Set Gallery, Brooklyn, NY and Barbur Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel
Rich-oo-uhl, Rich-oo-uhl. Jolie Laide, Philadephia, PA
New Year, New Work, New Faces. STOREFRONT, New York, NY
Hands Tide. Regina Rex, New York, NY.
Who Loves the Sun. Susanne Hilberry Gallery. Detroit,MI.
Zeitgeist 2009. Art-O-Mat LIC, New York, NY
Targeting Johns. G2 Gallery, Chicago, IL
Half/Half. Centro Cultural De Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and Sound Art Space, Laredo, TX
MFA Thesis Show. The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Representations. Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, IL
BA Thesis Exhibition. Charles Addams Gallery, Philadelphia, PA and Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY
Performance. Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA.
Regina Rex Gallery
I co-founded and co-run Regina Rex with a group of artists in Brooklyn, NY. www.Reginarex.org
Exhibitions curated at Regina Rex:
Letters Not About Love: EJ Hauser, Nancy Haynes, and Sarah Peters. (June 2012)
Texture.txt: Sarah Butler, Josh Faught,David Humphrey, Kristen Kee, Mary Reid Kelley, Lucy Kim, Leeza Meksin, Dona Nelson, Gil Rocha, Rebecca Shore, Jackie Tileston. (January 2011)
Bull and Ram Migrating Curatorial Project
I co-founded Bull and Ram with artist/curator Eve Lateiner. Bull and Ram curated shows in Soho, NY and Bushwick, Brooklyn http://bullandram.blogspot.com
Exhibitions curated by Bull and Ram:
( Sarah Mattes and Gwenn Thomas (April 2013); Stacie Johnson Solo Exhibition (January 2013); Susan Smith, Mike Metz, and Hewitson Kong ((November 2012);
Christian Sampson, Mira Dancy, Sascha Braunig (September 2012); Mythographia: Joanne Greenbaum, Michael Berryhill, Keith Allyn Spencer, Paul Demuro, Jackie Gendel (February 2012))
Profile in Art in America, http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/profiles/yevgeniya-s-baras-/
Stopa, Jason. NY Arts Magazine, ”Grid/Un-Grid”, April
Rochester, Katherine. Philadelphia Weekly, “November First Friday Picks: Rich-oo-uhl, Rich-oo-uhl”, November
Kuennen Joel. ArtSlant Chicago, Stretching Materiality, July
Truax, Stephen. BushwickBK, “At Regina Rex, Latin Roots Woven Together”, January
Cahill Zackary. Artforum, “Critics Picks: Hands Tide”, September
Meksin Leeza. Culturehall,“Which Craft?”, July 28
Foumberg Jason. NewCity, “Tip of the Week: This Is Only Temporary”, June 17
Foumberg Jason. NewCity, “Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything”, December 31
Foumberg Jason. NewCity, “The Manifold World”, December 11
Miranda Luisa. New Partisan New York, “Art By Yevgeniya Baras”, February, 7.
Adjunct Instructor, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY: Art History
Adjunct Instructor, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Foundations Department: Drawing in Perspective, Intro to Drawing, Color Theory; Developed Drawing Curriculum
Adjunct Instructor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Figure Painting, Multilevel Painting
Docent, Department of Education, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL
Participated in art historical research and writing projects; Prepared and presented lectures for adult audiences; Organized and led daily tours for school groups for grade levels 1-12
LECTURES, RESIDENCIES, AND GRANTS
The Shandaken Project, Shandenken, NY
ROI Community Travel Grant to India and Mexico City
Artist Talk, Department of Painting and Drawing, Sarah Lawrence College, December
Panelist, University of Pennsylvania, November
Artist Talk, Department of Painting and Drawing, Mica, March
Artist Talk, Department of Painting and Drawing, Tyler School of Art, November
Artist Talk, Department of Painting and Drawing, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, May