Icon "Persona", 2007, Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 inches $5,000
Andrew Baron was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1963. Following an affinity for graphic representation and comics in particular, he studied drawing and painting at the Ohio State University where his interests grew to include fine art as well. After earning his BFA in 1986 he moved to San Francisco in 1988, earning his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1990. He remained in the Bay Area for 13 more years, showing sporadically, before moving to New York in 2003 where he currently resides. Mr. Baron is currently the leading and sole practitioner of Narrative Abstraction, a bastard progeny that marries text with painterly attack. His paintings are a product of struggle with interiority and exteriority, the subjective and objective, the public and private of art and painting in particular. Baron is candid in the motivations that drive his work:

It often seems to me that the world of figurative art presents a kind of parallel reality that is often involving, but ultimately artificial. Whereas abstraction, while having a superior claim on the present world (or factualness), is unable to utilize the richness of narrative and its attendant allusions. My work attempts to incorporate the strengths of both the abstract and figurative, playing with allusion and material fact, one actively informing the other.

Andrew Baron's work is represented in the collections of James Wintersteen and Jeffrey and Clare Bright. His paintings will be included in the show "Zero Gravity/Heavy Weather" at the Painting Center in New York City in March, 2007.


NextSpace Gallery:  The mixture of words with painterly process gives your work an almost Pop meets Abstract Expressionism look - care to comment?

Andrew Leo Baron:  My intention is to have that quick hit that you get from Pop Art or advertising, but also have something that rewards a second or third look.  I've always made paintings that are the result of a very painterly process and I enjoy the sense of discovery that goes along with that.  At the same time, I want to avoid some of the romantic or heroic notions that are associated with painterly abstraction.  The words allow me to do that, allow me to get at things that aren't typically found in abstract painting.

NSG:  Ok, that leads into the next question.  Most of your work seems to be about failure, melancholy or advances some negative notion of some kind...

ALB:  Call me the King of the Bummer Paintings...

NSG:  Well, do you actively pursue that as a strategy or...

ALB:  I really don't have a strategy per se.  I can start with an idea, but it will inevitably change.  In fact, I occasionally get an idea that is life affirming, but I never seem to be able to pull it off to my satisfaction and so it morphs into something more dour.  Sometimes I think that my paintings are there to absorb my anxiety, fear and melancholy.  The interesting thing is, when I make a piece that satisfies me, my life is affirmed.  I'm happy.

NSG:  What comes first, the words or the image?

ALB:  They're very much tied together and it's a little different every time.  At some point, the painting will suggest a word, phrase or idea.  And that word or phrase can in turn help direct the execution of the painting.

NSG:  So it's an organic process.

ALB:  Very much so.