Bailin Studio

He left a paper trail…
  • The Erasing • 2015 +
    In his artist statement about his current drawing series, "The Erasing," Bailin, 62, writes: "As an artist who witnessed the waning of my father’s personhood through the dissolution of his memory, I wrestled with how to convey the devastating personal and human experience of memory loss without relying on visual clichés." The answer to that question is revealed in the creative process of the artworks of "The Erasing": draw, erase part of the drawing, repeat, repeat, repeat.

    LAMP, a 79-by-84-inch charcoal, pastel and coffee drawing on prepared paper, reveals a heart-wrenching scene. Through his father's eyes, we see fragments of different memories of people and places commingle, try to intersect, then compete for attention in a near chaotic, frantic cacophony. He tries to remember a life's story, but it is slipping away, scattering like autumn leaves in the wind, blown out of reach. There seems to be no way to collect the thoughts into a coherence; they fragment, dissipate or go cross-wire to one another. The viewer is left empty, alone, bereft. Erased.

    — Ellis Widner • Into The Void • 2017

    ERASING • CURRENT
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  • The Last • 2015
    From his early Holocaust drawings, in which he superimposed symbols of the Kabbalah over scenes of outrage, to his series of Biblical scenes set in the midcentury, to today's erasings, works that reference the loss of memory and personality, Bailin's narratives offer us a way to think about the human condition. We can be cruel, we can be banal, and eventually we aren't anymore.

    — Leslie Newell Peacock • Bailin. Criswell. Peters • 2015

    THE LAST • 2015
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  • Dreams & Disasters • 2013 - 2015
    Stream Banner
    Bailin’s new works feel less specifically narrative and more atmospheric. Bailin has talked about how essential mark making is to his process, and this approach is certainly evident in his drawings. The drawings in “Dreams and Disasters” are ephemeral and dreamlike, as the show’s title suggests, and the figures and settings emerge out of Bailin’s marks—marks of abstraction, gesture, texture, and motion—as if surfacing within one’s consciousness out of white noise. In his efforts to accrete images from constituent parts, Bailin adopts a multiplicity of implements, yielding various textures and marks. His works skirt the edge of abstraction and approach drawing as text, and as theater, rich in surface and movement.

    — Christopher Michno • Exhibition Review • art ltd, 2014

    DREAMS & DISASTERS • 2013-15
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  • C • 2011 - 2012
    Hamnmer Banner
    Bailin’s new works feel less specifically narrative and more atmospheric. Bailin has talked about how essential mark making is to his process, and this approach is certainly evident in his drawings. The drawings in “Dreams and Disasters” are ephemeral and dreamlike, as the show’s title suggests, and the figures and settings emerge out of Bailin’s marks—marks of abstraction, gesture, texture, and motion—as if surfacing within one’s consciousness out of white noise. In his efforts to accrete images from constituent parts, Bailin adopts a multiplicity of implements, yielding various textures and marks. His works skirt the edge of abstraction and approach drawing as text, and as theater, rich in surface and movement.

    — Christopher Michno • Exhibition Review • art ltd, 2014

    C SERIES • 2011-12
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  • Paper Trails • 2005 - 2011
    Legacy Detail
    [Bailin's] interiors and landscapes made since 2001 are as likely to resonate with texts by Eco or Borges as with anonymous images plucked from old magazines and newspapers. One drawing has its roots in an episode from the story of Winnie the Pooh. Bailin approaches each blank page as if a theatrical space to be occupied, activated. Each sheet becomes the site of a performance—Bailin’s own gestural charcoal dance and his character’s parallel search for a place, a form, a moment of reprieve.

    The star of these stills would more likely be cast as an extra. Middle-aged and nondescript, he wears outdated business dress whether inside an office or outside in the middle of a field. His expression, on the rare occasion that we see it, is sober, neutral, no mirror to the irony, absurdity or futility of his situation. Often he is looking for a way through or a way out. In “Map,” the man crouches atop a large sheet of paper, plotting out a position or game plan or storyboard. In “Search,” he jots something down in a small notebook while dozens of books behind him spill from their shelves into butterflied heaps. In “Corner,” the man peers out of a small aperture he appears to have forced open in the back wall of a narrow, slightly claustrophobic space.

    — Leah Ollman • Washington’s Profile Catalog Essay • 2008

    PAPER TRAILS • 2005-11
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  • Drawings • 1999 - 2007
    Hiding Detail
    …Bailin's anonymous but expressive figures interact directly with the elements, often at some peril to themselves. For all their mystery and even omino99us surreality there is an antic spirit to these drawings. In fact, in more than a few of his rough-hewn but detail charcoals Bailin sets up man (and woman) as the fall guy for nature's own slapstick brand of humor

    — Peter Frank, LA Weekly, 12/27/2002-1/2/2003

    DRAWINGS 1999-2007
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  • MINYAN & MIDRASH SERIES [1991-1999] AND OTHER BIBLICAL IMAGES
    Cain & Abel Detail
    Bailin's drawings … remain complex and not easily deciphered. The incongruities are intentional, and are magnified by his working methods. He is constantly on the lookout for images, clipping from newspapers and magazines that he reads prodigiously. He keeps the clippings in a large box and goes through them periodically, looking for inspiration. The images he selects are ones he reacts to strongly for some psychological reason. His interest in the psychological reactions that imagery induces in himself is fundamental to the ultimate aim of his drawings—to induce potent reactions in his viewers. Bailin ups the psychological stake of his compositions by using multiple sources and removing the images from their original context, a process that retains many of the meanings of the original sources and reinforces the element his work. In the end, his works are contemporary: the new context he provides for these psychologically—charged fragments, juxtaposed one against the other, reflects one of the major problems of modern life—the anxieties that arise from the stream of highly-charged emotional situations that arise daily, the desire for the simple life, and the complexity of the questions that arise when one is finally alone.

    — Ruth Pasquine • In Search of a Hero • 2004

    MIDRASH • 1991-99
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  • Early Work • 1985-1997
    Early Work Banner
    Bailin's drawings … remain complex and not easily deciphered. The incongruities are intentional, and are magnified by his working methods. He is constantly on the lookout for images, clipping from newspapers and magazines that he reads prodigiously. He keeps the clippings in a large box and goes through them periodically, looking for inspiration. The images he selects are ones he reacts to strongly for some psychological reason. His interest in the psychological reactions that imagery induces in himself is fundamental to the ultimate aim of his drawings—to induce potent reactions in his viewers. Bailin ups the psychological stake of his compositions by using multiple sources and removing the images from their original context, a process that retains many of the meanings of the original sources and reinforces the element his work. In the end, his works are contemporary: the new context he provides for these psychologically—charged fragments, juxtaposed one against the other, reflects one of the major problems of modern life—the anxieties that arise from the stream of highly-charged emotional situations that arise daily, the desire for the simple life, and the complexity of the questions that arise when one is finally alone.

    — Cory Dugan, Number: Spring 1988, Vol.1, No.4

    EARLY WORK • 1985-97
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  • Proleptic Productions • 1979 - 1984
    "Disparate Acts" is an attempt at a form of music theater in which all elements of performance – language, dance, music, gesture, lighting, sets, and space are part of an integrated event, with no element relegated to a secondary or decorative role. The production's structure of abrupt, isolated scenes has been chosen in part to dramatize those unexpected, fleeting moments of sudden realization which occur in daily life. However, 'Disparate Acts", is concerned primarily with showing the correspondences that exist between even the most diverse actions, as well as between the various art forms through which these actions can be represented. By juxtaposing disparate elements, it endeavors to manifest a transcendent "whole".

    — John S. Patterson • The Villager • 1979

    THEATER • 1979-84
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  • Performance Art • 1977 - 1978
    Performance-Still
    I moved to New York in the summer of 1976 and I completed a number of large scale paintings dealing with memory, location and material. But I soon came to realize that narrative art in the conceptual 1970s was problematic. As a result I developed several performances that brought my painting ideas into a theatrical space and permitted me to explore in depth image and language. The following performance works were presented during that period at various locations around New York City.

    — David Bailin, Abreaction Theater Promotional Materials

    PERFORMANCE • 1977-78
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  • Studies, Drawings destroyed or reworked • on-going
    STUDIO BANNER IMAGE
    David Bailin is famous for alarming curators and museum guards by altering or attempting to alter his own works after they’ve been installed. One minute David is busily rubbing out and redrawing, the next he’s being strong-armed out of the place. But this is a perfectly natural thing to do, as far as David is concerned, since his drawings are never really finished. They are left unfixed and open to revision—even though they flaunt their incompleteness on a grand scale.

    — Warren Criswell • World In Progress • 2000

    DESTROYED • REWORKED
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Preface on Contemporary Drawing
Two events shaped my concept about what a great work of art is and what contemporary drawing should embody.

55 years ago, I saw a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Bugs, dressed in an artist smock and beret, and dipping a large brush into a bucket of paint, paints the Mona Lisa in two passes of his hand. This was an amazing thing to watch. I could never figure out how he did that. Every time I lifted a brush it appeared to be so limited. But later I realized what that joke really meant for the artist: create the greatest amount of significance with the least amount of effort. You see it in masterful work. It only seems like the piece just appeared fully formed and effortless.

While studying art history in Italy, I visited the Convent of San Marco in Florence. Walking into a dark cell from a long sun drenched corridor, it took a while for my eyes to adjust and I noticed that I could only make out parts of a fresco. As I waited for the image to fully appear I made out a crown of thorns, and then a stick, and a bloody gash. And then to my astonishment, I realized that there was no complete image. Fra Angelico had created a painting that every monk could complete in his own way. He had produced the most devotional piece of art I have ever seen.

Both of those experiences came to define my approach to art and to contemporary drawing. For me, that meant finding out what was extraneous to image making, discovering how far could I go towards developing a story without losing an image. And that meant no color except for distinguishing form, no printmaking, painting or chemical/digital processes at all…just simple mark making.