McClain Gallery presents an exhibition of new work by Donald Baechler entitled Remedy of Anything. This is Baechler’s fourth solo show at McClain Gallery and combines small paintings with graphite drawings.
Donald Baechler is an artist who “considers doubt the basis of any artistic work. What at first glance seems to be a poetic examination of children’s art, at a second look results to be a subtly differentiated examination of language, meaning, communication, and perception but also of categories like identity and dissimilarity, authenticity and faking, generality, and peculiarity....” - Peter Weiermair, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (excerpt from Baechler: 77 Paintings, 2002).
These intimate 2-foot square paintings, while not new to his œuvre, lay out an indexical vocabulary which Baechler has been developing for decades: blooming flowers, a swan, a glass-half-full (or half-empty), a smile crowd each carry equal heft, mystery, and a dash of good humor. Baechler has been making these small paintings, almost always 24 x 24 inches, since 1980. (The size was determined by the availability of cheap pre-stretched canvases in that size). He saw them initially as preparatory work to explore different types of paint, and varying approaches to color and imagery, before attacking larger canvases. “More or less every phase of my work as it developed in those years is represented in these paintings.” In 2002, Skira published a monograph to accompany a museum exhibition of 77 of these small paintings organized by the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in San Marino, Italy.
As the artist explains: “When the recent pandemic sent many of us into a kind of exile, I found myself in upstate New York, initially without access to larger canvases to work on. The paintings in the present exhibition are from the series of works I began at that time in response to the altered circumstances we all found ourselves forced to navigate.” With titles like Collector of Cures and The Window Wish, the viewer finds themselves contemplating the healing power of art-making when our future is so unknown.
Donald Baechler (b. 1956) emerged in the 1980s as part of New York City’s East Village art scene. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Baechler studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, then Cooper Union in New York City. To briefly escape New York of the late ’70s, he took up an invitation from German exchange students to visit their homeland, where he then spent much of 1978 and ’79 studying at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. Baechler returned to New York in the early ’80s and had his first major solo shows in New York and abroad. Baechler continues to live and work in New York.
Baechler has had recent solo exhibitions at Cheim & Read, New York, Lars Bohman Gallery, Stockholm, The Kunsthalle Merano, Italy and The Museum der Moderne, Rupertinum, Salzburg, Austria. His work can be found in the permanent collections of various institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Centre George Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; and Städtische Galerie Schloss Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany.