John Baldessari with "Stonehenge (With Two Persons)

Wrong is Right: Remembering John Baldessari

Mixografia Gallery

Los Angeles, CA (January 27, 2020) – Mixografia presents Wrong is Right: Remembering John Baldessari, an exhibition celebrating the life and art of John Baldessari. The exhibition features editions made in collaboration with print publishers from across Los Angeles, alongside a selection of Baldessari’s video works made throughout the 1970s. A reception in remembrance of the artist will take place at Mixografia on Saturday, February 22nd, from 4pm to 6pm. This event is free and open to the public, with complimentary refreshments and valet parking.

Mixografia is honored to include artworks generously offered for exhibition by Cirrus EditionsEdition Jacob Samuel, El Nopal Press, Gemini GEL, and more to be announced, all of whom contribute in myriad ways to Baldessari’s prolific body of multiples made throughout Los Angeles over the course of a half-century. By highlighting the plurality of his collaborative projects, Wrong is Right pays homage to John Baldessari and the genre-defying impact of his life as an artist and teacher. The works on view honor the many faces and phases of Baldessari’s creative life, his keen ability to reveal simple truths, and his natural penchant for passing on knowledge, embodied in what he once described as the low wall between the teacher and student. Mixografia is deeply grateful for the humanity, kindness, and humor with which Baldessari carried himself as a friend and collaborator.

In his work with Mixografia, Baldessari seized on the specificities of the process, taking full advantage of its sculptural and multimedia capabilities. Beginning with his 1994 series of monoprints Table Lamp and its Shadow, leading up to his 2018 edition Blah, he recognized the adaptable character of the paper pulp and its ability to produce both flat editions and cast objects. As with the entirety of his practice, he engaged in the serious pursuit of playful exploration, with each project eluding the workshop’s expectations and taking the process in new and unexplored directions.

The exhibition features selections from Baldessari’s seminal video works made throughout the 1970s, emphasizing his distinction as one of the leading figures in the use of the moving image as a fine art medium. From his assertion on the definition of art itself in I Am Making Art (1971), to his fragmented vignettes on the state of contemporary art in The Way We Do Art Now and other Sacred Tales (1973), Baldessari finds himself on a continuum of experimental image-making with roots in Dada, film noir, the French New Wave and all throughout the canon of the cinematic avant-garde. These works represent a conceptual throughline in Baldessari’s larger practice, particularly related to his fluency in the intersection of images and language.

Baldessari approached all his work with an understanding of the historical breadth of art from its advent to its apparent unraveling (or re-constitution) in the modern era. Although largely stemming from the postwar period of American art, he defied categorization by keeping a wide lens on global and historical precedents. Drawing equal influence from the concise wisdom of minimalist poetry, to the esoteric high-theory of Ludwig Wittgenstein, to the accidental absurdities of popular culture, Baldessari sees his work as “issuing forth from a view of the world that is slightly askew”.

There are seemingly endless adjectives that might precede any description of John Baldessari and his monumental body of work. They are often broad terms, in contrast to one another as if by design; they are words such as playful and poignant, melancholic and jovial, revealing and obfuscating, acerbic and silly, elevating and effacing. They are descriptors that compose the portrait of a sage contrarian, an earnest jester, a winsome professor. Although finding the ‘right’ words may seem a futile exercise, there remain those four still unmatched in their clarity, a declaration that echoes through the decades: “I am making art.”

Wrong is Right remains on view until Saturday, April 4, 2020.

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