Rushern Baker IV seeks to capture the frenetic energy created by today’s socio-political malaise. This energy manifests itself in his paintings through layers of digital collage, resin, ceramic tile adhesive and paint. The various media are interwoven, at odds, and chaotic, slowly revealing compositions of destruction. There are hints of collapsing columns, drones shot down from the sky, Soviet propaganda posters, comic books, fallen structures, fire, rocks, and finally, ash. At times, Baker delivers a break in the rubble, leaving us with a moment to exhale, observe and ask, “is this the beginning or the end?”
Fascinated by political theater and the socio-economic ramifications of domestic and foreign policy, Baker cites structural breakdown as a recurring theme within his practice. If these paintings can engage with the world today, it is through the complex feeling of vulnerability stirring everywhere, every minute. Outside of societal unrest, Baker is heavily influenced by Octavia Butler’s Afrofuturist novels, most notably Parable of the Sower. He has linked his work to Black abstraction and artists such as Sam Gilliam, Felrath Hines, and Jack Whitten. Each canvas serves as a new edition of an ongoing battle, a commonly shared saga of conflict and discontent.
Rushern Baker IV (American, b. 1987) has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Scaramouche Gallery and The Cooper Union in New York City, Honfleur Gallery in Washington DC, and in group shows at The Third Line Gallery in Dubai, The Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte, NC, Bowie State University, MOCADA in Brooklyn, NY, Koki Arts in Tokyo, and Yale University. He received a BFA from The Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art in 2009 where he received the Jack Stewart Memorial Prize for Excellence in Painting, and an MFA from Yale University in 2012, where he received the Elizabeth Canfield Hicks Award for outstanding achievement in drawing or painting from nature. This is his first solo exhibition with HEMPHILL Fine Arts.