NEW YORK, NY: Opening November 17th, albertz benda is delighted to present Pose, the first New York solo exhibition of work by Brazilian artist Rafael Baron. With this exhibition, Baron will present a new body of large-scale paintings alongside smaller, gouache on paper pieces capturing portraits of people that he comes across on a day-to-day basis in his hometown of Nova Iguaçu, Brazil.
Portraits of housewives, service workers, and day laborers occupy Baron’s canvases, posed intentionally and dressed in vibrant textiles and patterned garments. The artist’s dynamic compositions celebrate his subjects with thick swatches of paint, energetic linework and lively color.
Baron’s practice is distinguished by dualities between figuration and abstraction, color and form, dynamism and stillness. Despite the artist’s varying subjects, his portraits are unified by a singular visual identity characterized by his energetic compositions, a paradoxical simplification and exaggeration of his subjects’ features, and a flattening of receding space.
Through these works, the artist elevates working class citizens through references to classical portraiture. His subjects are depicted pridefully, with an atmosphere of regality and elegance befitting a royal portrait. These works endow Baron’s figures with power, the lower social status of his subjects is subverted as they stand tall and proudly take up space.
In Laura, 2022, a woman with short blonde hair dominates the composition. Her stern, yet ambiguous expression is elevated by her stance. Sitting stiffly upon a patterned chair, she dons sophisticated attire – a multi-colored turtleneck and long black skirt. She folds her elbows on her knees as her hands hold a lit cigarette, it’s smoke billowing on the canvas. Baron does not aim to portray realism in his works, rather he captures the essence of his subjects and depicts their personalities through abstracted figurations.