The Landing is pleased to present the first Los Angeles solo show for Yevgeniya Baras, Towards Something Standing Open. Baras’s bright, jewel-toned abstract paintings gain energy both from their curious, amoeba-like shapes surrounded by loops and lines, and also from their rising surfaces, which have items of personal significance buried beneath them. Objects embedded in Baras’s works have included rubber, wood, stones, and fabric, and their presence can be felt, when not seen. At other times, things that feel talismanic or ritualistic are glued to the painting’s surfaces—available to the eye, but not explained.
Baras’s paintings seem to reference language, but an invented one. They use loops that mimic cursive handwriting, and also zigzag lines, but without forming letters. Baras herself is multilingual. Both the Cyrillic and English alphabet feel alluded to. What emerges is a sense that the artist is using a private language. The coded feeling of these markings brings to mind ancient writing systems, like hieroglyphs, or cuneiform—systems that communicated once, but can no longer be fully understood. Sometimes a phrase, a kind of statement of intention or poem can be deciphered, but mostly the symbols act as calligraphic and painterly marks.
This coded language, combined with the sunken personal objects, helps the work to feel intensely personal—shared, but still private: a self partly revealed, but partly concealed, embedded and protected.
Baras teaches painting and ancient art history, so it makes sense that an interest in the ancient is present in her work—in its reference to dormant languages, in the way it sometimes seems to allude to bygone methods of mapping and diagramming. Also apparent is the idea of an artwork serving as a written document, like the Rosetta stone: one that is both art and record, both decorative and functional. The items affixed to her painting’s surfaces also feel archaic, and symbolically significant, like relics.
At times, Baras’s abstractions seem to suggest natural landscapes—fields, hills, streams, the moon—in a way that also feels like mapping. Additionally, her heavy application of paint— sometimes in globs, and often raised above the picture plane—can bring to mind a topographical map.
When frames are included, they’re painted over, added to and decorated, handmade. The paintings also incorporate stitching, quilting, embroidering, collage and woodworking in their construction.
In addition to Baras’s adding, stuffing and embedding, there is also a subtractive process at work—a carving and sometimes a puncturing. The surfaces are both built-up and scarred. And so, even as landscapes are referenced, so is the project of archaeological digging: hunting beneath a landscape to find the ancient, the symbolic, the sacred, and the meaningful things that might be concealed beneath it.
Yevgeniya Baras received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Fine Arts and Psychology as well as an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including recent group exhibitions at Gavin Brown Enterprise, Murray Guy, White Columns, Sperone Westwater, NY and Galerie Kornfeld Berlin, as well as solo exhibitions at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, NY in 2016 and Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, NY in 2015. In 2014, Baras was awarded a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. The artist has been selected as a 2017-2018 Artist in Residence by the Chinati Foundation and recently completed residencies at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, in New York, NY, and the MacDowell Colony Residency in Peterborough, NH. Baras is a co-founder of the artist-run gallery Regina Rex, and lives and works in New York City.