Kalashnikov Gallery, Johannesburg
As a child Maaike Bakker came up with strange inventions by combining found objects. Her creations seemed to end up as random props in some odd narrative. ‘Art making always came natural to me,’ she says. ‘I felt comfortable with making things.’ It is through the augmentation of common objects, convergence of lines and letting her process flow which has been of service to Bakker throughout her art career.
Her exhibition, ‘Beyond the Vanishing Point,’ at Kalashnikov Gallery revisits her first exhibition ‘Now Museum, now you don’t,’ which took place at Nirox Projects in 2013, engaging similar concepts with the intention of presenting them more abstractly. She often begins her process, naturally compiling a music playlist and gradually growing it into the exhibition. She continues to cast a wide net in search of inspiration, transcribing passages out of novels and articles she collects along the way.
‘The aim was to present a series of speculated solutions which serve as a formation on new logic,’ she says. ‘As these objects (artworks) are presented as complex solutions without reference to their direct problem, these solutions (artworks) become futile expressions; they exist without a clear point of reference or structure, thereby freely exploring communicative potential and power of negotiation without a clear point of reference.’ It shouldn’t take one long to realise the complete lack of typography through this body of work. Bakker doesn’t take advantage of the powerful negotiator of thought and action. Instead, she opens up the communication lines by saying less and showing more. She avoids being too descriptive and, possibly, disingenuous.
Bakker’s use of ink predominates this body of work. She has selected a specific restriction of monochromatic colours, concentrating on soft curves and fine lines, jagged edges, scalene forms and negative spaces. The canvas is left open, encouraging abstract dialogue to develop between all these elements.
In Edit/Strange Negotiations (2016), Bakker evades traditional drawing methods. She uses spray paint, laser cutting and collages, with scanned drawings of sets of parallel lines to form simple structures. Tracing these digitally, she began adding other generated shapes to the tracings.
The artwork’s offset frame suggests a warping of the frames. This is also the purpose of transforming the two-dimensional work into a more sculptural piece, whereby the map becomes the place itself.
Through such means she could challenge the idea of a single focal point and present, in its own right, a blueprint of some type of structure or system. This is a similar point Jay-Z presents in Decoded, that ‘artists [poets] and hustlers play with language, because for them simple clarity can mean failure. They bend language, improvise, and invent new ways of speaking the truth.’
‘Beyond the Vanishing Point’ seeks to introduce a language of refined abstraction, leaving room for subjective interpretation. The simple idea of excluding typography and relying purely on the repetition of parallel lines and squiggles give life to a self-sufficient type of logic. While it may be difficult to draw any logic from a single piece of work, there are moments of sudden revelation, where you could find yourself lost between clarity and confusion.