Brain GamesBaker Overstreet
June 29 - August 17, 2022
︎ View the Exhibition
︎ Interview by Christopher Barnard (PDF)
Flynn Fine Art is delighted to present Brain Games by Baker Overstreet. The title directly references the 1978 Atari puzzle game. Overstreet's graphic paintings traverse the arcane corners of camp nostalgia by exploring absurd, nonsensical and failing systems that happily, and absurdly, lead to nowhere and back again.
The nine works in this online-only exhibition continue this cyclical journey, depicting hastily-constructed automatons that often man the machines of which they are a part. The titular painting, Brian Games—alongside Lock Jaw, Portrait 1 and Portrait 2—are enmeshed in modernism’s formal concerns, though they are reminiscent of Archimboldo busts in machine parts. The larger canvases extrapolate the idea and form: The metronome-shaped figure of Clown seems to be constructing something in the foreground. Mr. Wizard displays a central figure driving a Rube Goldberg machine that extends beyond the edges of the painting. Clap Back features two figures arguing, their brightly-colored conveyor belts and pulley systems guiding the disagreement. Marble Madness portrays a figure stuck in a pinball game, its bright red tongue lolling as a small white ball rolls toward it, one of many in the queue; whereas in Big Boy it is difficult to determine where the figure ends and the game begins.
The translucent and textured surfaces of Overstreet’s paintings tell of an unseen history, the mottled layers of loosely brushed acrylic leading to a crude formality that has aesthetic allegiance to artists like Richard Lindner, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Forrest Bess and Alfred Jensen. They seek a primal euphoria aroused by color, shape, movement and light, a type of trip, transcendence or evolution. Though to where, who knows. Following their own convoluted and ultimately dissociative logic, Overstreet’s canvases impress upon their viewer the idea of submitting to a process.
Baker Overstreet (b. 1981) is a Brooklyn-based artist whose graphic, one-dimensional paintings traverse the arcane corners of camp nostalgia via explicitly nonsensical systems and patterns. A graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art (BFA, 2004) and Yale School of Art (MFA, 2006), his work often depicts figures recognizable from the popular imagination like menacing clowns or E.T. but flattened into primitive caricature. Dolls, puppets, and cartoon characters appear as well, often attached to or embedded within the schemes of analog games, evoking a sense of play that happily, and absurdly, leads to nowhere and back again. Overstreet has exhibited nationally and internationally including at Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY; Paolo Curtis & Co., Milan, Italy; Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL; and, David Findlay, Jr. Gallery, New York, NY. Solo exhibitions include The Many Things that Fall in Between at the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA; SOMEONE IN THE DARK at Kai Heinze Berlin, Berlin Germany; and, Frown Upside Down at Fredericks and Freiser, New York, NY. Overstreet has been a guest lecturer at Pratt, RISD, Pennsylvania Academy of Art and Design, MICA, and the University of Georgia, and a Fire Island Artist in Residence.