Bhakti Baxter: Heat TransferJune 5th - July 31st, 2021
Nina Johnson is proud to present Heat Transfer, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Bhakti Baxter. The exhibition will open on June 5th and be on view through July 31st, 2021. Harnessing both the potential and limitations of his materials and environment, these new works illustrate the next chapter in Baxter’s ongoing engagement with natural systems, the miraculous, and scientific groundings for these energies.
In Florida and California, water is a major part of daily life. In Miami, where Baxter was born and raised, water saturates everything from the humid air to the rising sea levels and tropical storms. In Topanga, where Baxter has lived for the past three years, the essential element is much scarcer. It makes sense, then, for Baxter to employ the meteorological conditions of his environment just as he does paint, ink, and the water they move in.
While Baxter’s previous work celebrated the mercurial interaction of liquid ink, water, and paint on slick surfaces like Mylar in the controlled environment of a studio, the new paintings on view are beholden to the outdoor heat and aridity of Southern California upon stretched raw canvas. For each large-scale work, Baxter first grids tiered subdivisions of the plane in blue chalk on raw canvas. He then soaks the canvas in water and begins applying paint, but, because he works outside in the open air, all the material interactions are accelerated.
Baxter says he has to move quickly—the water and paint dry in less than an hour, providing an exterior and uncontrollable challenge to each work but a requisite to achieve the desired finish. If, for example, a piece is left out overnight in humid and foggy conditions, the paint will sink too deep into the surface and lose its saturation. The sun’s rays and dry air are therefore crucial elements at work within this process.
A suite of smaller drawings on watercolor paper that will also be on view are a series of illustrations of prismatic, organic, globular abstract forms upon imaginary man-made geometric blocks produced to satisfy Baxter’s desire to create sculptures—something logistically complicated at his hillside canyon home and studio. The drawings are paired with freestanding cast concrete sculptures that walk out of the paper.
The resulting compositions act as a visual representation of Baxter’s communion and collaboration with his natural surroundings. Engaging drastically different scales, the fractal patterns reveal the beauty of microscopic crystalline atomic structures while Baxter’s materials and processes embrace the land and atmosphere around him.
Situated deep within the protected Topanga state park, “I’m constantly in a state of awe where I live,” he says. “The changing seasons, the migrations of birds, the celestial rhythms, are all the more visible here. These works are a way to explore and celebrate this experience. They are an offering of gratitude in the pursuit of fulfilling dreams.”
Bhakti Baxter (born in Miami FL, 1979) lives and works in Topanga, CA. Exploring the relationship between science and spirituality his work hinges heavily on geometry, the systemic manifestations of geometric principles in nature and the interpretive freedom of abstraction. Working in a variety of media within sculpture, painting and drawing, Baxter’s practice is an ongoing investigation into existential queries through the creative process. His work has been exhibited at Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami, FL; Perez Art Museum Miami, FL; Bravin Lee Programs, New York, NY; Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France; Manifesta 11, Zurich, Switzerland; among others.