Sunday, May 13, 2012

Heather Bause


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My art review repost at ModernHouston.net for a show in February 2012.

I first met Heather Bause at her Box 13 studio space during a show a few months ago. Looks like she has moved on from that space and she currently has a show of her new work at the Drake Gallery. The title of the show is a mouth full; "The Stanford-Binet:The Modern Authority on Identifying Intellectually Deficient Children." Bause uses this evaluation tool as inspiration to create large paintings that are minimal and hard edge with a get deal of conceptual punch.

One of many things I found fascinating about her work were the extraordinarily crisp edges she has achieved in her paintings. Normally you would expect hard edge paintings to be associated with a kind of abstract image, but in order for Bause to effectively recreate the look of the illustrations in the plates she represents, she had to go with the hard edge style painting. Otherwise the illusion would have been completely blown.

Bause’s technique is impressive, but her content is uncanny in its timing. Just a week ago, there was an announcement that new guidelines for diagnosing autism is in the works. Not to mention that diagnosis for ADD and ADHD have been in the news as an epidemic for years. Bause is tapping into the current obsession of parents and their children’s possible “intellectual deficiencies.” By referencing back to the 1937 Stanford-Binet illustrations, she is drawing a line to the past. Bause helps us peer into the history of psychology and the early attempts of this soft science to evaluate children. Although purposely nostalgic in style, these images feel incredibly serious and poignant.

Bause’s use of the pony is pure iconic and I mean in a Susan Rothenberg kind of way. Bause’s series of song birds shows her tendency to create a series of related images that make her work recognizable as Heather Bause paintings. I can easily imagine these pony paintings taking on this same role. And although these horse illustrations were invented by someone else, Bause can own it, just like Warhol and the Campbell soup can. Darke Gallery will have Heather Bause’s hard edge paintings up until March 10th.

For more pictures from the show visit ModernHouston.net.

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