Bhakti Baxter in Ocean Drive

December 1st, 2011

Taken from Artist Bhakti Baxter Breaks Brand by Brett Sokol
Published December 2011, Ocean Drive 


If you want to tick Bhakti Baxter off, just tell him how much you love his artwork. Specifically, compliment the drawings and paintings he created during the middle of the last decade—from a darkly inked scene of young children blowing soap bubbles that warp and woof into a foreboding dreamscape, to a gorgeous portrait in oil of his late grandmother, so steeped in melancholy grace that its bluish hue practically envelops the viewer.

Yet nothing in that vein is on display at Baxter’s exhibition at Wynwood’s Gallery Diet. Instead, he’s fashioned an array of abstract sculptures, paper collages, and most strikingly, 13 different Imploded Ball Barf assemblages—from soccer balls to basketballs, each split open to spew forth brightly colored “cosmic residue.” If this stylistic shift confused anyone, Baxter says, so be it. “I still get e-mails from people interested in buying those older pieces,” he explains with a grimace, sitting inside Gallery Diet. “That was five years ago—sorry!”

This is more than mere petulance on Baxter’s part. Tossing aside one’s established “brand” is potentially destructive to an artist’s bankability. And it may explain Baxter’s departure from the stable of prominent Miami gallerist Fredric Snitzer, a subject Baxter is loath to address beyond describing himself as a “free agent in Miami… They were a good seven years working with Fred. Things change and you move on.” (Snitzer has previously declined to speak publicly on the split.) Baxter isn’t exactly forsaking that earlier body of work—Gallery Diet has just published a lavish career monograph, XYZ 2001–2011. But extended talk about paintings conjures up a pained look once again….



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