Early in her career Rea Baldridge began to think of painting as a limited and limiting medium. She had a broader notion of the kind of art she wanted to make. So, when a series of fires, bombings and other mishaps upended her life and destroyed most of her early work, she was not as devastated as she might have been.
In fact, Rea felt these events, liberated her to concentrate on more integrated and intangible art forms by forcing her to think hard about impermanence of objects, the nature of loss, and the mutability of memory.
Thus began her immersion in conceptual work, in which she employed the healing power of humor to explore the meaning of art in her life as well as its’ connections to the broader society.
It is relatively recently in this life of exploration that she has turned to painting as her primary medium.
Determined to revive and advance neglected skills, through intense and focused application, Rea has managed to redefine herself as a painter, by redefining the medium she had at once rejected.
All the influences and inspirations of Rea’s personal journey are evident in her current work. Irony
mixed with paint, her work manifests the very constructive/destructive cycles that caused her one time ambivalence towards painting.
Always acknowledged as a gifted and innovative artist, her works are widely admired and collected. She has enjoyed many successful exhibitions and critical acclaim as she continues to paint outside the lines.
“A successful painting will take as much time to look at as it did to paint. A great painting will take forever to see.”
“Assumptions are made about what artists do… Not too many people consider life as a medium. My current conceptual work is to transform myself into a painter. This project will, no doubt, take the rest of my life, and then some!”
“My paintings careen between representation and missed representation, because they are built from an accumulation of impressions, false impressions and fancies. I work in that wiggle-room between what the eyes see and what the brain thinks they’re seeing.”
Rea Baldridge was born in, lives and works in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“It’s the ambiguity in painting that I find seductive. Like words, shapes and colors can have more than one meaning and represent more than one thing. Like wordplay, it’s all about context.”
I may spend more time looking at my paintings than I spend painting them. Watching images organize themselves out of quirky, disparate paint slathers and daubs, and then dissolve back into disarray is quite mesmerizing . The ability of humans to read and construct meaning from the chaos of line and color so effortlessly is a constant wonder.
Discovering ways to guide that process along is at the heart of what I try to do. To make the paint act as a conduit for coaxing another brain into the transformative state I sometimes enter while I work. It is a form of entertainment. Slow, subtle, and subversive.
The way my paintings start is pretty unimportant. An image will catch my eye, I chase it around the canvas for awhile. Eventually the paint decides where it wants to go and what it wants to be. I just keep digressing. My job is not to hamper the flow of the paint and to let secondary images emerge or subside.
That’s why I work in the forgiving medium of oil paint and on several canvases at a time. Scraping down and building layers of corrections. But, when the process is really working, my brain isn’t, the pilot is on holiday.
If someone spends a little time with a piece and finds something worthwhile in it, it is not only a tremendous compliment to a painter, it is their raison d’être. I think a painting needs to do more than grab attention. It needs to hold on long enough to elicit a second impression, and perhaps even long enough to open an ethereal dialogue. I guess I really just want to share my experience with another person. Not to Impose my interpretation. I do try minimize the megalomania!
About my titles. I love to slap an apt title on a painting. Funny how the best ones come straight out of the work, and land on it like a stamp. The last word is always the finishing touch, because I don’t think a painting is complete without a name.