Contemporary Art reflects different aspects of society and its people today. While trying to find an artist to analyze, I hoped to concentrate on an artist that incorporated a societal message behind his/her work. A contemporary artist that does an exceptional job of visualizing this reality is Firelei Baez, a Dominican artist who makes intricate works on paper and canvas as well as large scale sculptures. Her mixture of different types of media and metaphorical messages creates interesting compositions that reflect contemporary trends.
As seen in the images below, Baez had a very unique style of rendering figures and patterns. I greatly appreciate her technique of having a central, detailed figure and a plain background in many of her art pieces. I hope to take inspiration from this type of composition because I very often try to fill up the full paper with immense detail, sometimes leading to busy compositions. Experimenting with this contrast would be an interesting way to bring attention to the central element of the artwork. A similar thematic element I have found within Baez's work is the concentration on female figures. I especially like how Baez uses saturated colors and detail to express emotion and movement within these figures and hope to draw inspiration from this going forward. Additionally, I am drawn to how Baez experiments with several different types of media and styles, but at the same time has a continuous thematic message that can be easily identified. After doing some research, I found that Baez tries to evoke conversation regarding culture and identity through her artwork, which is present in the pieces below. I appreciate how each individual art piece by Baez has its own significance yet her collection comes together as a cohesive set and hope to develop some of my own similar ideas for my artwork in the coming future.
Examples of Firelei Baez's Art
I believe that one of Baez's most interesting artworks is “Bloodlines”. This drawing does a fantastic job of incorporating different types of media and ideas about race and culture and resonates with my interest in mixing different art styles to create a unified art piece.
What I find particularly compelling is the juxtaposition of style within the art piece. The figure is painted in a modern, abstract style with non-conventional colors. I find the dripping painting technique particularly attractive as it emphasizes details within the figure. It is obvious that Baez layered different colors of paint within the figure to get the desired effect. This figure contrasts with the drawing element of the art piece. The majority of the paper is covered with an intricate design where the figure would traditionally have hair. This same is reflected in the piercing eyes that are very detailed and drawn in a similar style. I find it extremely interesting how Baez is able to express so much emotion in this artwork which such few details in the face.
Through its unique style and composition, “Bloodlines” reveals its message of racial stereotypes and pressures. Baez does an incredible job creating the figure’s elements without providing an obvious illustration. For example, when rendering the skin tone, she resorts to unconventional colors to create a dark tone. Even though it is not obvious at first, it is a very effective form of portrayal. A similar result is achieved through the intricate drawing present as the headdress. After some research, I found that Baez showed women in her artwork wearing tignons, an 18th century headdress imposed by law for women of color in New Orleans. Even though this headdress was seen as a form of oppression at first, it soon turned into a form of expression. This expressiveness is successfully shown with the drawing through the complexity of the design. I appreciate how Baez activated the space for the headdress and didn’t rely on a single pattern, adding to the movement of the art. Additionally, the use of a non-white paper base was a great way to increase the contrast present within the headdress. Because of this artistic decision. Baez was able to use both white and black charcoal to highlight the small details visible in the headdress. Another element of the art piece that I enjoy is the layering present in the watercolor. This is shown with the green tones present on the left of the figure. I would like to take inspiration from this art piece and add elements of it to my own artwork. For example, I really like the complexity of design present and will apply this to my future projects. Additionally, I think the contrast of using color as well as black and white within the same art piece is interesting will try to experiment with this style to create interesting compositions.
While Firelei Baez's artistic style is quite different than mine, I find her work to be expressive and unique. I appreciate her bold artistic choices with both media and color. Like Baez, I have found that most contemporary artists do an excellent job of developing a personal voice through their art. Going forward this semester, I hope to create a clearer artistic vision that expresses my interests and aspirations.
“Home.” Firelei Báez, fireleibaezstudio.com/
Guillén, Valeria. “Guillén WARP.” PAMM: Firelei Báez "Bloodlines", 1 Jan. 1970, guillenwarp.blogspot.com/2015/10/pamm-firelei-baez-bloodlines.html
“Firelei Báez.” Gallery Wendi Norris | San Francisco, www.gallerywendinorris.com/artists-collection/firelei-baez.
“Firelei Baez.” Morgan Lehman Gallery, www.morganlehmangallery.com/artists/firelei-baez.
“Firelei Báez: Bloodlines.” The Andy Warhol Museum, www.warhol.org/exhibition/firelei-baez-bloodlines/.
“Firelei Báez: Bloodlines.” Piss Discus | PAMM | Pérez Art Museum Miami, www.pamm.org/exhibitions/firelei-b%C3%A1ez.