(b. 1949, Aberdeen, WA)
Robert Baribeau was born in Oregon in 1949. He received his BS from Portland State University in 1978, and his MFA from the Pratt Institute in 1979. He has been honored with a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, a Pratt Institute Art Department Grant/Fellowship, and a Florence Saltzman-Heidel Foundation Grant. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Artnews, The New York Times, The New York Sun and New York Magazine. Baribeau lives and works in Stanfordville, New York.
Fusing landscape and expressionistic abstraction, Baribeau channels the raw energy of post-war New York and mixes it with the pastoral and sublime of 1950s Mystical painters. Working since the late 1970s with constant use of vibrant color and thick impasto, Baribeau’s paintings beckon for visual evaluation and discovery. As Donald Kuspit stated in Artforum, “[the] paintings are lyric responses to nature – to landscape, seen in all its purity, that is, as a complex of abstract ingredients (texture, color, shape) rather than as a particular scene.” Canvases from the early 1980s appear to show mountains with roof-like caps or patchworks of bright paint in stacked lozenges. By the end of the decade, Baribeau had incorporated a visual language of x-shapes, circles, lines, and spokes, into canvases of wild energy and frenetic color. In the 1990s the previous decade coalesced into the “village” paintings – small house-like mounds, on horizon lines, in landscapes dotted with pictographs. Works from the late 90s are dominated by thickly painted, hard-edged geometries and the adoption of found household materials, such as maps, patterned fabrics, and cardboard, as collage elements. Since the early 2000s Baribeau has produced several series, including his esteemed flowers and cigarbox paintings, as well as his Field and Milbrook series, for which he applies thick mixtures of oil paint, acrylic, clear latex, and collage, onto canvases that evoke Diebenkorn’s Berkeley paintings or Rauschenberg’s Combines. Above all, Baribeau is committed to paint itself. It is a tool to merge influences and disparate visual cues into a unique ocular exposition, creating what Michael Kimmelman calls, “vigorous pictures that convey the sheer pleasure in the handling of paint.”