Brett Baker’s intensely worked paintings are characterized by an unusually physical interplay of drawing and color. He builds each painting over several years, layering and removing rows of vertical and diagonal marks of muted, intense color. Critic Jed Perl, describing Brett’s work, has noted, “Their tightpacked, elongated rectangular forms—which are invariably based on a rather simple grid—bring to mind some of the layered compositions of Paul Klee as well as some of the textiles of Anni Albers.”
Although relentlessly abstract, Brett’s paintings are meditations on his immediate surroundings. He employs observation to enliven and disrupt the expected regularity of the grid. The resulting paintings become dynamic, abstract environments infused with and energized by nature. The artist writes: “The question I’m trying to answer is how does one begin and end in abstraction and still realize a true and real impression of the world beyond the painting?”
Brett lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is represented in New York by Elizabeth Harris Gallery where he has had four solo shows (2013, 2015, 2018, and 2020). He has an MFA in Painting from Boston University and his awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been featured and reviewed in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The New Criterion, Two Coats of Paint, and various other blogs and publications.
In addition to being an artist, he is the editor of Painters’ Table (painters-table.com), an online painting magazine. He also writes frequently about art – recent subjects include Pat Passlof, Chaim Soutine, George Braque, and Nicolas De Staël.
2020 Brett Baker: The Beauty at Hand, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY
2018 Brett Baker: New Paintings, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY
2016 Brett Baker, Bottle Rocket, Fayetteville, AR
2015 Brett Baker: Recent Paintings, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY
2013 Brett Baker: Paintings, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY
2013 Brett Baker, Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury, NC
2008 Brett Baker, Simon Gallery, NJ
2008 Paintings by Brett Baker, Socony Mobil Building, New York, NY, curated by Suzanne Randolph Fine Arts
2008 Forms of Face: Recent Small Paintings, The Painting Center, New York, NY
2007 Facing Color: New Paintings, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, MD
2007 Time & Text, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL
2007 Time & Text, Ossia Fine Arts Space, Chicago, IL
Selected Group Exhibitions
2020 Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
2019 Varied State: Brett Baker, Ashlynn Browning, Holly Fischer, Juan Logan, Damian Stamer, William Paul Thomas, Whitespace, Atlanta, GA
2019 Low Light: Brett Baker & Jay Gould, Exeter Gallery, Baltimore, MD
2018 Bevel: paintings by Brett Baker, Casey Matthews, and Douglas Witmer, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2018 Art at Kings Oaks, Newtown, PA
2018 Four Pillars, Full Circle, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2018 Of Weight and Breath: paintings by Brett Baker, Susanna Coffey, Clare Grill, and Ellen Siebers, ESPS: East Side Project Space, Nashville, TN
2015 Colored Mud, Fenway Studios, Boston, MA
2015 Two Abstract Painters: Graham Auman and Brett Baker, Ravenscroft School, Raleigh, NC
2013 Independents, Green Hill Art Center, Greensboro, NC
2013 TINY: Attention, Exploded, The Carrack, Durham, NC
2012 Heroes, Small Black Door, Queens, NY
2011 Printed, Painted, Pressed, C2 Fine Art, St. Petersburg, FL
2010 Artists Invite Artists, Small Works, The Painting Center, NY
2010 New Walls/Fresh Paint, The Painting Center, NY
2009 Intimate Frontiers, Richard Stockton College Art Gallery, NJ
2008-9 Placing Color: Paintings by Brett Baker, Kayla Mohammadi, and Carrie Patterson,
Winona State University, MN (September 2009)
Boston University, MA (April 2009)
The Painting Center, NY (May 2009)
St. Mary’s College, MD (January-February 2009)
Bristol Community College, MA (September 2008)
2008 Peace, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2007 War is Over, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2006 13th Anniversary Show, The Painting Center, New York, NY
2004 Nature Abstracted, The Painting Center, New York, NY
2002 Award Winning Alumni 1995 – 2002: Guggenheim, Dedalus, Starr, Sherman Gallery, Boston University
1999 Contemporary Painting ’99, Juror: Andrew Forge, Erector Square Gallery, New Haven, CT
1999 Young Masters: Recent Graduates from Boston University and Yale, Glass Mountain Gallery, Bantam, CT
1999 New Models, 808 Gallery, Boston University, Boston, MA, (catalogue)
1998 National Competition, Juror: John Walker, Bowery Gallery, New York, NY
1998 Emerging Boston Artists, Juror: Carl Belz, Dante Alighieri Society, Cambridge, MA
2002 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
1999 Juror’s Prize, Contemporary Painting ’99, Juror: Andrew Forge
’97-9 Constantin Alajalov Scholarship, Boston University
Shea, Andrew, L., “Critic’s Notebook,” The New Criterion, February 4, 2020.
Einspruch, Franklin, “Brett Baker: The Beauty at Hand, Elizabeth Harris Gallery,” Delicious Line, January 14, 2020.
Kopf, Suzy, “Friday Gallery Roundup: Exeter Gallery, Current Space, Reginald F. Lewis Museum,” BmoreArt, April 5, 2019.
Mattera, Joanne, “Five Shows in Chelsea,” Joanne Mattera Art Blog, February 28, 2018.
Fenstermaker, Will, “Follow These 8 Artist-Run Blogs To Keep Up With Art Criticism Today,” Artspace, June 28, 2017.
Parks, Addison, “Brett Baker: Forest and the Trees,” Artdeal Magazine, April 17, 2016.
Henriksen, Katy, “A Painter Finds Space in Smaller,” KUAF Arts Beat, February 26, 2016.
Perl, Jed, “The Perils of Painting Now,” New York Review of Books, September 24, 2015.
“Brett Baker: Backstory,” Tilted Arc, March 12, 2015.
Panero, James, “Critic’s Notebook,” The New Criterion, February 23, 2015.
Butler, Sharon, “Small Work: Brett Baker @ Elizabeth Harris,” Two Coats of Paint, February 20, 2015.
Lowrance, Christopher, “Brett Baker: Recent Paintings,” MW Capacity, February 20, 2015.
Parks, Addison, Catalogue Essay, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, February 2015.
Perl, Jed, “The Painter’s Predicament,” The New Republic, September 16, 2013.
Schwartz, Julia, “Brett Baker: Interview,” Figure/Ground Communication, March 6, 2013.
Mattera, Joanne, “Painting in Chelsea,” Joanne Mattera Art Blog, March 2, 2013.
Panero, James, “Gallery Chronicle,” The New Criterion, Volume 31, February 2013, p. 47.
Butler, Sharon, “Thin and Thick: Mario Naves and Brett Baker,” Two Coats of Paint, January 24, 2013.
Samet, Jennifer, “On Beauty: The Paintings of Brett Baker,” Catalogue Essay, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, January 2013.
Mojica, Liliana, “Brett Baker: Interview,” Design Porteur, January 8, 2013.
Samelson, Henry, “Brett Baker,” Buddy of Work, September 11, 2012.
Joy, Christopher and Keeting, Zachary, Video Interview with Brett Baker, Gorky’s Granddaughter, 2012
Brennan, Valerie, “Interview with Brett Baker,” Studio Critical, 2011
McCann, Margaret, “Intimate Frontiers,” Richard Stockton College, NJ, 2009.
Goodrich, John, “Placing Color,” New York Press, May 15, 2009.
Colaizzi, Vittorio, “Placing Color,” catalogue essay, 2008.
“Four Drawings by Brett Baker,” LIT, The Creative Writing Journal of The New School, 2007.
“Art, music, and language mingle at the Ossia Fine Arts Space,” Lisbeth Redfield, Chicago Maroon, The University of Chicago, October 26, 2007.
2018 Visiting Artist, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
2017 Visiting Artist, Residency Unlimited, NYC
2016 Lecture, “On Painting and Painters’ Table,” New York Studio School
2016 Visiting Artist, University of Arkansas
2016 Visiting Artist, University of Tulsa
2015 Panelist, “Building on Maud’s Legacy: Place and Being an Artist,” UNC Greensboro
2015 Visiting Artist, University of North Carolina Greensboro
2015 Visiting Artist, Mount Gretna School of Art, PA
2014 Visiting Artist, Haverford College, PA
2012 Visiting Artist, SUNY Oswego, NY
2012 Curator, Focused Field, an online exhibition at Curating Contemporary
2009 Visiting Artist, Winona State University, MN
2008 Panelist, “Communicate Better through the Web: A Guide for Visual Artists,”
NYFA/Cue Art Foundation, NY
2007 Artist House Residency, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
2007 Visiting Artist, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, MD
’99-01 Visiting Lecturer of Drawing, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
1999 M.F.A., Painting, Boston University, Boston, MA
1997 PostBaccalaureate Certificate, Painting, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
1995 B.A., Fine Arts, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA