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Carl Baratta Interview

Written by Ryan Christian   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 11:12
Just coming off a show @Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Ryan Christian interviews.

The Faithful Protector (After Nick Englebert)
Egg Tempera On Clay Board
30"x30" - 2008

Greasy triangles, weird space, Japan, pallet theft, and a touch of insight on his new series of paintings that compose Light up and Be Wonderful, his first solo endeavor with WX. Meet Carl Baratta.

Sail Into Your Bones
Egg Tempera On Clay Board
30"x30" - 2008

Hello Carl, tell us a little about yourself. What's your story?

I moved to Chicago about 5 years ago from Philly to go to The School of The Art Institute of Chicago for grad school. I didn't know if I'd stick here afterwards but I ended up meeting a bunch of awesome people and got hooked into the local art scene. Plus this town makes a mean sandwich. The pizza is terrible. I'll take a greasy triangle over anything Chicago says is pizza. I mean what's up with squares? Out of all the shapes I imagine squares to be the second least appetizing.

Magic Bloodbath
Water Based Media On Paper
22" x 30" - 2005

Okay, I've seen a selection of you work ranging from 2005 up until now. First the five solo shows thing, then the split show with Iva last year, and then some newer images. Could you talk a little about how the work has changed since then?

I think with each show I try to show a different angle on the work. Like this time around I'm focusing more on who and where my source material comes from. The biggest shift from the earlier work to now is how I'm thinking about color as it relates to the subject matter. Before I looked towards the blushing colors in Indian Miniatures to run a sort of counter point to the weird and sometimes gory imagery I tend to gravitate to. Now I'm thinking more along the lines of color as light. And I want it moody and dark to compliment the imagery.

You had a solo show in Japan. How was that experience professionally and non.

Tokyo was awesome. One of my best friends, JJ Pakola, an awesome painter BTW, lived there with his wife Mayumi and let me crash there while the show was going on. I met a bunch of local artists that went to Tokyo Gaidai, which is the school that people like Nara, Mariko Mori and Takashi Murakami came out of. In fact, their mentor/ teacher showed up to my opening as well. He's a dead serious guy and I think he thought I was a goof ball. But he seemed to like the work. No one really wanted to talk about giant monsters (unless we were out drinking sake) everyone wanted to yap about color. It was great. I also met a Sumo wrestler.

'Straw Hands Thread Fingers Pitch'
Egg Tempera On Clay Board
30"x30" - 2008

How do you go about creating these paintings? Where do you draw your ideas from, what inspires these pieces?

I'll use anything I can get my hands on to make paintings I want to see in the world. I love a wide range of stuff and I write a bit too. But some of my influences specifically are Glam Rock, Kung-Fu movies, Miniature painting (Persian & Moghul are my favorites), Mid West visionary art in a wide range of materials, Alchemy prints, Ultraman.......... anything in front of my face... and especially my friends! I try and use things in ways they haven't been used. You'll never see my super creeps acting ironic or goofy.

'Shine On Forever! 2'
Egg Tempera On Clay Board
32"x24" - 2008

The narrative aspect of these images is really bizarre, as is the color and spatial aspects. How did these characteristics arrive in the work?

I think it's important to research why certain images have one type of spatial convention and another has an entirely different one. There are several reasons I've found but the big one for me is a space's social implications. As a viewer I like having the freedom to let my eye wander. Persian miniatures, as an example, let you do just that. You can see the whole story at once. The space is paper-thin; a person couldn't possibly enter it. We're not meant to because it's a mythological space; it's a place for story telling. It's as every much as 'real' a way to experience story telling as, say, Albrecht Durer's camera lucida. Standing in one specific spot to watch the world unfold is weird, over baring and too controlling for me. Weird tumbly spaces help keep everything active and like you said, bizarre. As for color, I totally steal pallets from paintings I think look awesome. To me it's another layer of referencing. It's another way of giving shout outs to all the great paintings and drawings I see.

A Wind Night, A Wolf Night
Water Based Media On Board Mounted on a Frame
14"x14" - 2007

What are your thoughts on Chicago comparatively to everywhere else you've experienced?

I've been coast-to-coast and abroad and the best thing about Chicago artists is that, compared to anywhere else, they aren't afraid to let it all hang out. What I'm saying is we're badass.

Forgotten Hills
Water Based Media On Board Mounted on a Frame
48"x48" - 2007

What's Light Up and Be Wonderful all about?

It's a smash up of Mick Ronson and David Bowie lyrics. It's not about smoking weed.

Looking For Love, In A Looking Glass World'
Water Based Media On Paper
22.25" x 16.5"

Things you consider grand right now?

Favorite contemporary band is definitely Frog Eyes. Favorite all time band ties with T-Rex and early Bowie.

I have a painter crush on Jim Lute's work. People to keep an eye/ ear out for in no particular order: Isak Applin, Jeremy Somer, Bob Reinard, Deb Sokolow, Justin Cooper, David Ingenthron, Iva Gueorguieva, Phil Welcome, Amy Mayfield, Dan Schank, JJ Pakola, Dave Snyder, Adam Eckberg, Jenny Kendler, Todd Chilton, Ruth Cook and Ollie Southgate.

Painters. Writers. Sculptors. Photographers. Performance Wizards. Mad men.

Failed out of Autumn
Water Based Media On Paper
26"x30" - 2007


Interview conducted by Fecal Face's Chicago corespondent Ryan Christian. Email him at: ryan(at)fecalface.com {moscomment}

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