Jonathan Baldock, “The Skin I Live In”
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Revivalism is often a way of moving forward by looking back, a goal presumably shared by neomodernists like Jonathan Baldock, a British artist whose sculptures and paintings resurrect the refined Bauhaus aesthetics of Oskar Schlemmer.
Schlemmer was noted for his involvement in avant-garde dance and theater, and Baldock seems similarly focused on the idea of the body as a performative center of gravity. One very Schlemmeresque piece consists primarily of balls of varying circumference stacked into a freestanding figure posed in front of a hanging scrim. Another, a wall tapestry, features a frieze of ballerina legs forming a face. Mouths, noses and eyes are frequent motifs, especially in a trio of paintings festooned with glass eyes. Interestingly, Baldock dampens the exuberant tone of much of his work with muted colors and also creates most of the offerings out of felt, giving them a muffled quality.
Baldock’s work is charming and hardly lacks in ambition. But aside from showcasing the artist's art-historical tastes, its motives seem obscure. If these objects are meant to operate like actors on a stage, their raison d’être remains hidden in the wings.