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Kiyomi Baird and Robert Koch
OTA Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Amanda Mallory


Robert Koch, "Three Spheres," mild steel, 32 x 32 x 32"

Continuing through August 10, 2018

Japanese artist Kiyomi Baird grew up in California and later spent many years living in her ancestral homeland of Tokyo. The dualities of these living environments, or as Baird puts it, the “tension that I feel in my life and express in my art: the Eastern search inward toward stillness and the Western drive outward through exploration” are evident in her new body of work, “Beginnings II.” All but a few of Baird’s pieces in this collection incorporate spherical elements, representing the cosmos as well as a spiritual embodiment with no beginning or end. Baird’s paintings use texture, layers of stenciled patterns and rough pigments to expand the spherical elements out through the canvas. While Baird’s pieces in “Beginnings II” are individually compelling, the body of work as a whole has both an energy and stillness, again reminiscent of the dualities of Eastern and Western zeitgeists. She uses sparkling golds and light blues, juxtaposed with the occasional deep red and black to bring cohesiveness to the collection through color and form.

Robert Koch, who grew up in Pennsylvania and began working as a functional stoneware potter, later moved on to work in steel. His work provides a sculptural counterpart to Baird’s paintings. In one of the larger rooms of the gallery space, three woven steel spheres sit in the middle of the floor. Koch claims that as an artist he is interested in using hard, lifeless elements like steel to create fluid, soft sculptures. This ambition is realized in “Three Spheres,” which work well against the soft, floating spheres in Baird’s paintings. Several more sculptures by Koch can be found in the outdoor sculpture gallery, and while they are compelling for their curving lines and natural qualities, don’t feel quite as cohesive as those united to Baird’s paintings.

Baird and Koch create work that is united not only in its understanding and experimentation with the spherical form, but a balanced exploration of texture and line. Baird’s paintings, like Koch’s sculpture, feel connected to natural elements, cosmic inspiration and an understanding of the spiritual realm.


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