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  • Artist Profile: Cody Bayne

    written by Kayla Goggin

    If you’ve never heard the term “Neo-Urban Expressionism” (in all its art star glory), Cody Bayne’s work is the only definition you’ll need in order to grasp the concept. His multi-layered collages tow the line between post-modernism and street art, their abstracted shapes pulled from the spirit of wheat-pasted street campaigns and their bold, graphic colors from a rich history of commercial advertising and expressionist art. With art historical references and a graphic history fractured, condensed and repackaged, Bayne’s collage works are as conceptually layered as they are literally.

    Luckily for us, Bayne has an attitude and an approach to his neo-urban expressionist niche that saves it from accusations of pretension. His collages have a rawness to them; their fractured grounds are so realistically rendered as to look cut directly from some grimy city wall. It’s urban decay reborn in a gallery, with the benefit of being surprisingly unsanitized. That’s not to say that Bayne doesn’t understand subtlety — on the contrary, pieces like “Upon Reflection It’s Just Us” show incredible restraint. Its flat surface is given dimension with wrinkled papers, softly patterned with the everyday neutrals of dirt and wear. Abstracted forms are created from the stubborn strips of yesterday’s posters ripped away, leaving behind some absolutely beautiful graphic shapes. “Upon Reflection It's Just Us" is almost believable as a readymade object, its collage is so astutely self-aware.

                    

    Manscape                                             Handout

    In the spirit of so much street art, Bayne avoids a beleaguered approach by throwing in a healthy dash of levity. Pieces like “Manscape” or “Handout” play with visual puns and introduce text as an incredibly powerful tool for drama. Draw whatever comparisons you’d like, Bayne seems unconcerned with the oft-heavy handed commentative approach of many popular street artists; while he may choose to co-opt their style, he has his own unique substance to worry about.

    Descriptions of Bayne’s work elsewhere online define him (rather ambiguously) as a post-modernist. The artist himself says he’s found his roots in the Nouveau Réalisme, mixing abstract expressionism with the literal and metaphorical décollage of Francois Dufrene or Jean Tinguely. Bayne’s process is subtractive, concerned with modes of destruction and exposure. But to what end? The artists of the Nouveau Réalisme movement aimed to bring reality back into art by incorporating elements of the industrial or urban world to lambast all that they viewed as bourgeoisie in art. Bayne, however, seems much more interested in bringing his own specific brand of reality into the art world via Nouveau Réalisme methods than making some grand commentary.

    The work, which owes much to Raymond Hains’ experimentations with layer and texture, is clearly as referential of art history as it is of modern urban landscapes; Bayne combines the two into pieces which manage to exist on simultaneous planes of thematic and aesthetic complexity and accessibility. He has successfully brought the reality of modern city life - that endless cycle of collage and décollage, creation via destruction - into his art.

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