Felipe Baeza: Unruly Forms

Each of the eight works in Unruly Forms, made between 2022 and 2023, has an iconic presence. All are strikingly composed around a single, roughly symmetrical central figure. At the same time, each figure is different and all embody some form of multiplicity. The human and the nonhuman merge to create fantastical images that conjure realms of myth, spirit, and imagination.

Through these strange, poetic, thriving forms, Baeza’s themes emerge. If we could excavate the histories, cultures, landscapes and bodies that have shaped our identity, what would we find? If we could picture identity as a fluid notion in a constant state of suspension and becoming, how might we appear? If we could recognize the different physical, social and psychic boundaries that surround us, how might we imagine freedom? Informed by his own experiences of physical and social displacement and difference, the images of Baeza’s Unruly Forms now multiply and proliferate across hundreds of JCDecaux bus shelters in the United States and Mexico, spanning place as well as time to reach the broadest possible audience amidst the rituals of daily life. 

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To develop the series, Baeza researched Mesoamerican artifacts, including ceramic figures, vessels and plates in museum collections in Boston, Chicago, and New York, the three US cities for the exhibition. He is interested in reanimating the power of such objects, understanding that their original making and context imbued them with spiritual significance and energy. In turn, the power of these objects has acted on the artist’s imagination, their imagery absorbed to become part of Baeza’s visual language. 

In his approach to both materials and themes, Baeza’s artistic process is one of osmosis and incorporation. His early interest in sculpture led to studies in printmaking, where he explored the physicality of layering, pressing, cutting, stitching and collaging. On his studio floor, Baeza applies multiple passes of pigment to raw paper until the dyed material expresses the history of its making in layers of undulating color, saturation and texture. These painted sheets become backgrounds, or are cut into smaller elements and collaged to shape pictorial elements. He also integrates found images drawn from magazines and other printed matter. The hybrid images built up through Baeza’s intensive process combine animal, vegetal, elemental, and cultural forms. In Confined but still intoxicated with freedom, vein-like red offshoots sprout from human hands connected by sinuous, root-like arm-wings to a cavity within a thorn-covered torso. A Mesoamerican-inspired headdress frames the face of a young man collaged from a vintage physique magazine as the whole figure floats against an ambiguous sky. With these layered, mythic images, Baeza gives us metaphorical access to a different kind of truth that recognizes and celebrates the unconscious power of Unruly Forms.

Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director

Felipe Baeza: Unruly Forms is curated by Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director Nicholas Baume with support from Assistant Curator Jenée-Daria Strand.

About the Artist

Felipe Baeza (b. 1987, Guanajuato, Mexico) works and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Fusing collage, painting, printmaking, and other techniques to create multilayered, textural works that explore notions of the body and migration, Baeza’s sensually rich and visually arresting works evoke both mythic dimensions and contemporary themes. His figures created over densely layered paintings appear in different states of becoming and at times are even abstracted to the point of invisibility. 

Baeza’s recent group exhibitions include: The Milk of Dreams, 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2022); Prospect 5. New Orleans: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow, New Orleans (2021); and Desert X, Palm Springs (2020). Baeza’s recent solo exhibitions include: Made Into Being, Fortnight Institute, New York (2022); Unruly Suspension, Maureen Paley, London (2021); and Through the Flesh to Elsewhere, the Mistake Room, Los Angeles (2020). Baeza’s works are in the public collections of Columbus Museum of Art, LACMA, Moderna Museet, North Carolina Museum of Art, and San Jose Museum of Art. Baeza is the recipient of a Latinx Artist Fellowship by the U.S. Latinx Art Forum, Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant and completed residencies at NXTHVN and the Getty Research Institute. Baeza received a BFA from the Cooper Union and an MFA from Yale.

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Installation Photos


New York Locations

Boston Locations

Chicago Locations

Mexico City Locations

León Locations

Queretaro Locations