Baker Overstreet’s paintings might be influenced by tribal and folk art but within his primitive abstraction lies a contemporary world that is bombarded by garish brands, logos and video games. The trippy colours, geometric shapes and varied textural markings have more in common with early modernist painters than those from the Art Brut tradition.
This is no outsider artist, off on his own, making work that evolves from within, this is a painter who has immersed himself in theory, relishes pigment and the viscousness of paint, something that cannot be appreciated on a computer screen.
These totemic compositions have more in common with graffiti, the stylised patterning a language he is well versed in, his mark making a series of contradictions; thick blocks of impasto juxtaposed with drippings, quick marks asserting themselves against defined geometric forms, the under painting visible, a map of what was, a history that gives depth to each picture.
Overstreet is deceptive, a trickster, leading us down a naive path of ancient ritual before we realise we are looking at a complex abstraction born in an era of modernity and technology.
Thomas Micchelli co-editor of Hyperallergic Weekend has said of Overstreet’s paintings:
Overstreet’s symmetrical designs, built up over time, with traces of previous decisions establishing the bases for further formulations, emerge as an infrastructure for channelling the wellspring’s flow. The paintings’ resemblance to 1980s-era video games does not diminish their impact but rather connects the process of their making with the primal euphoria aroused by colour, movement and light, made all the more affecting by the scruffiness of their surfaces, as if there were only enough emotional space available for the essence of subliminal urges, not for the representation of their source. It also makes the imagery’s inability to translate into jpegs simultaneously fitting, ironic and poignant