ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART is pleased to present “ . . . and Nixon’s coming” | the draft,
R.C. Baker’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
“ . . . and Nixon’s coming” combines art, fiction, and design to create a multifaceted narrative that arcs from the Moscow show trials of 1937 to President Nixon’s resignation, in 1974. Divided into four sections, the work views the turbulent artistic and social ferment of the mid-20th century through the experiences of the story’s main character, Kirby Holland, and through his artwork, including academic drawings and studies after the old masters, comic-book illustrations, and amalgams of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and graphics. Whether figurative or abstract, none of the art functions as illustration; rather, the images create a parallel track to the text. Kirby progresses from earnest art student to member of an army unit charged with repatriating Nazi loot to comic-book illustrator caught up in McCarthy-era witch hunts to determined and eclectic painter at a time—the 1970s—when painting was viewed by many as irrelevant, if not completely dead.
The book “ . . . and Nixon’s coming” is a work in progress, created with varying fonts, layouts, and graphics—a literary/historical/graphic-novel/art-catalogue hybrid. The images for Part i, “The Fractured Century,” set in the years 1937–47, include still lifes, figure drawings, and early abstractions. Part ii (“Smashin’ Pumpkins,” 1952–55) features black-and-white action paintings, comic-book pages, and large-scale collisions of the two. Layered abstractions and reconceptualized Pop portraits appear in Part iii, “Incoming” (1964–68); dense collages and painterly graphics characterize Part iv, “What? My Lai?” (1972–74). All of the paintings, drawings, and prints were actually created between 1979 and 2009, with additional work planned as the book progresses.
On Saturday, April 18, at 1 pm, Mr. Baker will read from “ ... and Nixon’s coming” and discuss the work in the exhibition as well as the relationship between criticism and fiction.
R.C. Baker’s articles and essays have appeared in The Village Voice, Performing Arts Journal, The New York Times, and other publications, and his paintings, drawings, and artist’s books have been exhibited at numerous venues in New York City, including the Drawing Center, White Columns, and the Center for Book Arts. Mr. Baker is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Painting Fellowship and has taken part in numerous panels discussing subjects ranging from “The Future of the Graphic Novel” to last year’s Whitney Biennial. He most recently appeared as a talking head for the Ovation channel’s documentary Jeff Koons: Beyond Heaven.