Hauser & Wirth now represents artist Firelei Báez - FAD Magazine

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Hauser & Wirth now represents artist Firelei Báez

Hauser & Wirth announced today that the gallery now globally represents artist Firelei Báez.

Portrait of Firelei Ba?ez Photo: Amilcar Navarro © Firelei Ba?ez Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

New York–based artist Firelei Báez (b. 1981, Dominican Republic) has achieved wide acclaim over the past decade for her immersive paintings, installations and sculptures that explore diasporic histories against the backdrop of colonial narratives and conventional ways of seeing. A self-described bibliophile and voracious reader, Báez has been likened to a historian, mining the foundational and forgotten archives of the Americas and beyond in order to challenge and expand the ways in which we perceive and relate to one another. Her constructions are marked by erudition and an intimate physicality that gives way to vibrant abstraction and exquisite detail. Though richly layered in cultural and historical references, her practice is equally rooted in a palpable connection to the human body—her own and that of the viewer. Báez’s sensitivity to the conditions within which she creates extends to the physical experience of looking at her work. The visceral abstractions, multisensory approach and arresting beauty of her art capture the viewer on a deep intuitive level before conceptual understanding coalesces, catalyzing a sensory reorientation where new ways of perceiving and imagining become possible.

Firelei Ba?ez, Map of the British Empire in America 2021 Acrylic and oil on archival printed canvas 96 7/8 x 132 1/4 x 1 5/8 in / 245.9 x 335.8 x 4 cm Photo: Phoebe d‘Heurle © Firelei Ba?ez Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Báez’s reinterpretation of the past achieves complexity and nuance beyond the confines of traditional historical accounting. She incorporates archival elements that have been discarded or overlooked in order to create what she describes as ‘a bigger truth.’ In her work, antiquated maps, architectural blueprints and the pages of deaccessioned books become the literal canvases upon which the artist intervenes. Paint pours, graphic patterns and three-dimensional renderings disrupt the original composition of these documents. From such initial abstractions, fantastical figures and worlds emerge; hybrid forms of human and animal bodies entwine with verdant plant life, delicate hair arrangements and elaborate textile designs. Saturated colors ebb and flow within these precise depictions, resulting in an expansive and fluid representation of the body and history. Through her multimedia installations, Báez’s virtuosic paintings take on a third dimension, extending into monumental architectural forms and soundscapes, further enveloping viewers in her mythmaking and avid prospecting of new worlds.

Marc Payot, President, Hauser & Wirth said:

Firelei takes on history and transforms it into poetry— visual, visceral, technically inventive, breathtaking works of art that go beyond merely telling us something, to fully enveloping and implicating us. By consistently reasserting the importance of the Caribbean in the wider context of world history and revealing the pervasive presence and impact of Caribbean and Black cultures that have been previously obscured, her art demands we become more astute world citizens. In her courage and sheer virtuosity, Firelei aligns perfectly with so many pathbreaking artists in our gallery’s program. We’re thrilled and honored to welcome her to Hauser & Wirth and look forward to all that lies ahead in our collaboration.

In October 2023, Báez will have her first European solo exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark and in spring 2024 Báez will be the subject of her first US survey exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, which is slated to tour to the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Des Moines Art Center.

About the artist

Firelei Báez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, a city bordering Haiti in the Dominican Republic, in 1981. Firelei Báez received an M.F.A. from Hunter College, a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union’s School of Art, and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been presented in many significant international exhibitions, including the inaugural installation of the ICA Watershed, Boston (2021), curated by Eva Respini, now on view at The Momentary in Bentonville Arkansas, and The Milk of Dreams at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022), curated by Cecilia Alemani. Recent solo presentations of Báez’s work include exhibitions at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; and Pérez Art Museum Miami. The artist has recently participated in a number of group exhibitions at major institutions, such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Cleveland Museum of Art; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Baltimore Museum of Art; and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. She is the recipient of many awards, most recently the Cooper Union President’s Citation (2022), Artes Mundi Prize (2021), and Philip Guston Rome Prize (2021). Báez’s work is held in many significant private and public collections; the latter include the Baltimore Museum of Art; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Dallas Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo; Pérez Art Museum Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Luanda, Angola; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.




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