Nicolas Baier Transmission
Works in the exhibition
Division Gallery and Arsenal Toronto are proud to present Nicolas Baier: Transmission, a major exhibition of recent work by this acclaimed artist from Montreal. On view from October 25, 2013 to January 25, 2014, Transmission will be Baier’s largest exhibition in Toronto to date.
The works on view, which include large-scale installations, photographs, digital renderings and paintings, are united by Baier’s interests in science, perception and the artist’s role as intermediary between technology and imagination. The connecting thread among this particular group is knowledge, its transmission, and the limits of what we can know.
Anchoring the exhibition is the monumental installation, Vanité/Vanitas, a highlight of last year’s Oh, Canada survey at MASS MoCA. A glass and mirror vitrine contains the artist’s working environment completely plated in gleaming chrome, from furniture and hardware to trash can and half-eaten breakfast. Updating the tradition of the vanitas still-life painting, Baier reminds us that all our knowledge cannot protect us from death.
This theme is echoed by a mural comprised of scanned antique mirrors, which reflect the stains and scratches of age rather than the viewer’s image. Other scanned mirrors have been etched with the dodecahedron, postulated as the shape of the universe. Baier deconstructs and reconstitutes this resonant form in Schemes, a 3-D rendering that took him 800 hours to create.
Other images represent micro and macrocosmic views of the universe. Photographs shot through a microscope illustrate human neural networks, while clouds and constellations illustrate predictive systems, real and imagined. The physical transmission of knowledge is symbolized by a massive steel armature representing six mainframe computers. The black-coated structure sits on a white marble base, metaphor for ancient Greece and the beginnings of philosophy.
A new series that sees Baier going back to his roots in painting features meticulous hard-edge abstractions reproducing images of collisions in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. Boldly grappling with humankind’s futile desire to know the unknowable, Baier has created an outstanding body of work that is both visually and conceptually mesmerizing.