Continuing through October 24, 2015
The dome of the U.S. Capitol building may be a surprising subject for a contemporary artist, but Dan Bayles’ new paintings ably unsettle our complacent acceptance of the dome as a symbol of democracy by suggesting new ways of approaching our history. Bayles starts with an image of Constantino Brumidi’s 1865 "Apotheosis of Washington," the famed fresco in the dome — a structure built by slaves. The image, with its heroic and whitewashed celebration of the founding fathers, is then subject to Bayles’s scrutiny and deconstruction.
His paintings, varying in size from small to monumental, take a segment of the fresco and interpret it in new ways. Colors and soft organic shapes are emphasized rather than figures. Baroque styling gives way before color field stains, impressionist daubs of paint and tiny, tight brushstrokes in the vein of Lee Mullican. The titles of Bayles’ works — e.g., “Mechanics, Commerce, Marine” and “Landscape with Reaper” — suggest the precision of categories and metanarratives that construct our history, but his style effectively renders them hazy, fragmented, and shifting. They refuse to cohere. Thus, the interstices and margins of the fresco and of history prove more compelling than the official narrative.
Published Courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2015