London-born painter Tim Bavington is at the forefront of a resurgence of abstract art in the American west. Since the age of eighteen he has made his home there, first in Pasadena, California where he attended the Art Center College of Art and Design and later in Las Vegas, where he received an MFA degree from the University of Nevada. At UNLV Bavington studied with art critic and curator, Dave Hickey and in 1997 he began making pictures with spray painted stripes in high-keyed colors of acrylic paint in what was to become his signature style of hazy hard-edged abstraction.
Bavington’s abstract style is informed by such diverse experiences as his employment as a freelance illustrator for The Simpsons cartoon series, his study of Bridget Riley’s optical paintings of the 1960s and the art of California conceptualist Ed Ruscha, as well as the sun-drenched desert and nighttime neon of the Las Vegas landscape. While his approach to painting is often intuitive, Bavington’s compositions are carefully planned in pencil and pastel drawings on graph paper. Recently, the artist has been transposing music and text as the basis for his work. This painting, for example, is based on a guitar solo in a 1965 song of the same title by the Rolling Stones. On the left side, Bavington linked the twelve-hue color wheel to the twelve-tone musical scale, assigning every note a different color. He varied the width of the painted bands to match the length of each note in the music. The faint lines on the right side of the painting roughly correspond to the time structure of the same musical solo. Described by his mentor, Dave Hickey, as looking “… for all the world like neon in the mist,” Bavington’s paintings are optical extravaganzas that conjure up commercial barcodes, Technicolor TV test screens, 1960s psychedelia, and the stripe paintings of Kenneth Noland or Gene Davis.
Extreme Abstraction was a major exhibition surveying of the history and future of abstraction that spanned the Albright-Knox’s three buildings and extended onto its outdoor campus during the summer and fall of 2005. Site-specific commissions by contemporary artists were juxtaposed with seminal works and recent acquisitions from the museum’s collection to shape a visual trajectory of abstraction in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Allowing contemporary artists to revisit the museum’s history and filter it through their own perspectives, this intermingling of historical and contemporary art emphasized the Albright-Knox’s ongoing support of artists working in abstraction in all of its varied forms, from emotive and highly gestural expressions to cool and crisp architectonic explorations of design and structure.
This exhibition was organized by Director Louis Grachos and Associate Curator Claire Schneider.