Telepathic Evanescence:
Collaborative Artworks by Will Alexander and Byron Baker
June 17 - August 6, 2022

"This exhibition features a series of paintings born out of a spontaneous creative exchange between two multidisciplinary Los Angeles artists. Driven by the power of color, spirals, and patterns on the human psyche, Will Alexander and Byron Baker present a non-cognitive cosmic assemblage with each collaborative piece.

“Within this rarefied praxis, creative energy is articulately condensed across disciplines, thereby evolving an evanescent circularity that continues to clarify its own transmission.”

– Will Alexander

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Generative Energies

In their vivid collaborations, Will Alexander and Byron Baker have produced images of an animate world that extends the surrealist impulses on which it draws to channel streaming configurations of vibrant energy. The traditions of spiritualist work in which these are made, and the Surrealist graphic language that are part of their background, are a framework that can not fully account for the vibrancy of these works. These generative images, with their suggestions of microorganisms existing at cosmic scales speak of the animate world. But they are also expressions of the infinitely varied activity of coming into being of every instance and moment of being-ness and awareness. They present forces made evident in color and form in constantly swirling motion that offers a cut across primal physical processes, only momentarily held static on the surface of paper and canvas in order to be made visible. Whole cosmic systems are at work, the very business of the universe itself, in all its emergent complexity, is glimpsed here.

Alexander's titles follow the adjective-noun pairings familiar from his poetic works. A substantive entity qualified by a generative force—the pattern is the template by which he characterizes the living world, the animate energies, and refractive forces. The poet’s vocabulary, like his and Baker’s suggestive lines and glyphs, links the worlds of speculative physics with those of animate intelligence. “Living Ionics,” “Quantum Electric Fields,” “Neutrino as Voltage,” and “Contrapuntal Circulation” are among these, attached to the images that vibrate with equal resonance across those realms of associations.

Among these, “Infinite Hieroglyphics” and its canvas serve as an exemplar of the successful collaboration of the two artists’ abilities and sensibilities. In its suggestive lines and signs, painted against a dark deep space ground, we can see the roots of the graphic vocabulary of the more spiritually inclined of Surrealists—Remedios Varo’s organic signs, Joan Miro’s glyphic language, the automatism of André Masson, and the hybrid images of Leonora Carrington. This is the organic side of Surrealism, filled with hallucinogenic miasma and potent symbolism, and far from the intellectualism of René Magritte, or the dream-life of desire that characterized Max Ernst’s provocative personal inventory of characters or Salvator Dali’s vulgar assemblies of deception and play.

Alexander often expresses the affiliation he feels with the coterie of Surrealists who gathered around the publication, Le Grand Jeu, including René Daumel and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte. Short-lived (the journal ran for just three issues from 1928-30), it was the expression of a more radically mystical position, tinged with prophetic belief and investigation of parapsychology, than that of mainstream Surrealism à la Breton. For these poets, the concept of the Universal Mind was a crucial feature of cosmic consciousness, and this idea finds resonance throughout Baker and Alexander’s work.

Alexander’s poetic imagination is suffused with recognition of a universe in which all matter is alive and all energy is an aspect of awareness, refractive and enlightening in its vibratory existence. That animate energy swarms through these paintings, joyously active, alive with generative excitement. This is a select and compact exhibition with its large canvas welcoming the visitor at the entry, hung next to a quartet of works on paper, and its coherent upper gallery with its series of six related canvases and several others through which we see the visual exploration play out. Whatever its Surrealist roots, this work has a contemporary quality, driven by a conviction that the life force of the animate world far exceeds our human capacity.

Johanna Drucker
Los Angeles, July 2022

Byron Baker lives and works in Los Angeles. He paints many large and small scale oils on canvas. The majority, while still in storage, were destroyed by vandals in the early 1990s, an event he overcame with darkly placed humor. Prior to this he participated in exhibitions in Los Angeles including Remove Your Hat and Two-Headed Collage both in 1984, Harvest of Evil in Columbus, Ohio, 1983, Optic Occultation/Visible Invisibility group show in Los Angeles, 2015, and Searings solo show at Oeno Vino Gallery in Atwater, California 2016. His work is included in the anthology Invisible Heads: Surrealists in North America – An Untold Story (Anon Edition 2011), Jhim Pattison’s posthumous collection In The Arms of the Honey Eaters (Anon Edition 2013), Searings: Works on paper by Byron Baker (Anon Edition 2013), The Codex Mirror by Byron Baker and Will Alexander and many more. He is a founding member of the Industrial Music Group Mal Occhio expressing a passion that continues to this day. Presently Byron Baker is curator of the Oeno Vino Gallery located in The Wine Cellar of Oeno Vino Wines located in Atwater, California, where he has curated exhibitions of marvelous photography, collage and painting.

Will Alexander Writer, artist, philosopher, and pianist Will Alexander was born in Los Angeles, California in 1948 and has remained a lifetime resident of the city. He earned a BA in English and creative writing from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1972. Alexander’s books of poetry include Across the Vapour Gulf (2017), Compression & Purity (2011), The Combustion Cycle (2021), and The Stratospheric Canticles (1995). He has taught at many colleges and universities, including the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the University of California, and Hofstra University, among others. His collection Singing In Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose, Texts, Interviews, and a Lecture (2013) was awarded an American Book Award. As poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Will has curated programming that've included readings, workshops, and author conversations. His most recent collection, Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten, was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.