Tim Bavington | Reviews

Huffington Post
September 8, 2010
Top Summer Shows You Can Still Catch, North and South
View review here

Art in America International Review
September, 2010
Los Angeles
MARK MOORE by Lyra Kilston
View review here or download pdf

Read about him in the blogs!

Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art to Go
August, 2010
Tim Bavington - Las Vegas magic hour

Tim Bavington
Elle Decor
This Las Vegas-based painter translates rock music into rhythmic vision.
By David Colman
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The following article is taken from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Friday, April 18, 2003: PAINTER TRANSLATES HENDRIX RIFFS INTO OP ART COLORS AND FORMS by Regina Hackett

The pinging sound of video games in an arcade sounds like an electronic version of wild turkeys in full cry, just as the muffled clack of computer keyboards in a busy office mimics the sound of de-beaked chickens trying to feed.

From London and now living in Las Vegas, Tim Bavington paints in the gap between these experiences, the real and the synthetically real. The colors of his largely vertical, acrylic stripe paintings at the Greg Kucera Gallery have a digital glow. Seen up close, their edges are vague, as if their focus needs adjusting. From a distance, they appear to shimmer, a kinder, gentler version of Optical Art from the 1960s.

It's Op Art with a 21st-century edge. Some of his stripes are based on commercial bar codes writ large and radiant. Others relate to music. But instead of the metaphoric music/art tradition of early 20th-century modernists such as Kandinsky, Bavington's in sync with a wised-up literalism that's popular now.

He matches the 12 tones of a musical scale with 12 tones from the color wheel, assigning each note a particular color. What he gets, according to him, are equivalents between his specific paintings and specific pieces of guitar music, heavy on Jimi Hendrix, with the bandwidth of each stripe determined by the length of each note with a musical sequence.

This is painting from a plan, with improvisational elements held firmly in check. Despite their initial familiarity, these paintings couldn't have made the scene decades ago, when Op Art and its fellow-travelers created a new kind of cool. Back then, Bavington's digitally based colors were far from common currency.

That alone gives his work a critical edge. Nobody can say that it's past its pull date and in need of special pleading from the defenders of the good, the true and the beautiful.

In the end, however, Bavington's work is more than up-to-date. It's evidence of a singular aesthetic intelligence. Like advanced equations on a blackboard, these paintings embody a way of thinking about the world and finding a new form for new experience.

The following article is taken from the Los Angeles Times, Friday, June 9, 2000: Bavington's Sophisticated and Savvy Abstracts Exude Joy by Christopher Knight

The L.A. solo-debut by Las Vegas-based painter Tim Bavington keeps the recent push on abstract painting going full tilt. His four gorgeous canvases at Mark Moore Gallery are a fresh and savvy reinterpretation of stripe paintings, here given an up-tempo musical spin. With the look of universal pricing codes on commercial packaging- except written large and in glorious Technicolor- the four unfold in a kind of formal narrative through the room. First comes a small painting whose deeply beveled stretcher bars push the vertically striped surface plane away from the wall. (Titled "All Too Beautiful," it is.) Next comes "Science," a large work whose scores of multicolored stripes are carefully matched up on the gray scale, which forms a horizontal bar that runs along the bottom edge. Third is an even bigger painting, "Lazy Sunday," where the gray stripes are replaced with a cool turquoise band, which create a breezy through-line for the hot rhythm of tropical pinks, yellows, oranges and magentas above. Finally, the kicker: "Acquiescence II" is a 50-inch-tall diptych that runs more that 21 feet across the back wall. As the title might suggest, it's a painting that grabs you by the lapels and pulls you over-then practically asks you to dance. As with the other paintings, the vertical stripes are sprayed on in military-strait lines of varying widths. Sometimes the spray is high and tight; sometimes it’s loose and overlays the stripe adjacent, making for a retinal shift in hue or an optical sense of shallow space.

The assumption is that one line was sprayed after the next, from side to side across the vast expanse, with incremental decisions made about what comes next and careful modulations added as necessary. Whatever the case, the overall sense is of a complex orchestration of palette, bandwidth and composition. Linearity and color are as seamlessly, inseparably fused as horizontal is with vertical. The colors are lush - a typical sequence across a few inches goes persimmon, bright orange, tan ochre, flame red, yellow, electric blue - with an optical fuzz between them. The far left end reads cool, the far right end reads blazing hot, but Bavington takes you all the way from icy blue to searing crimson without letting the vast, happily trembling surface in between devolve into chaos.

These are paintings about the joyful possibilities of painting. Bavington's complex, sure-footed abstractions establish a sophisticated and luxurious universe.

The following article is taken from the September / October 2001 issue of Art Issues, by David Pagel:

Tim Bavington's stripe paintings look so right it's easy to miss just how wrong they are. In terms of immediate visual impact, their palettes dazzle; their compositions pulse; and, the more closely you move toward their surfaces, the more they appear to be mirages. This allows their conceptual edginess to sneak up silently and stealthily - before blindsiding you with obviousness- and then disappear, just as swiftly, into the background.

In terms of technique, Bavington's physically resplendent images couldn't be more wrongheaded. Painted with an airbrush, they embody a logical impossible proposition. Using a spray gun to make a hard edge abstraction isn't all that different from using a screwdriver to do a hammer's job: While you may manage to pound the nail in, the results won't be pretty. In Bavington's hands, however, the wrong tool delivers the right stuff, transforming a type of painting that had reached a dead end thirty years ago into one rich with possibility.

The London-born, Las Vegas-based artist's Los Angeles solo Debut consists of five paintings, four from 2000 and one from 1998. The earliest, Sweet Gene (large), is a proportionately and coloristically accurate enlargement of Boudoir Painting, a 1965 canvas by Gene Davis (1920-1985). Bavington's version of Davis’s self-proclaimed bedroom painting resembles an out of focus photograph; the crisp lines of the original have given way to the blurry imprecision of a reproduction. But Sweet Gene is also sexier than its forebear. Paying risky homage to a hero whose work has not been revered for many years, Bavington's spray-painted remake suggests that when it comes to art, historical accuracy is a fallacy- or at least an inadequate goal. Fidelity to objective details is far less interesting - and artistically truthful - than bringing the spirit in which something was done into the present.

Taking this idea and running with it, his new paintings dispense with specific referents and all the better to amplify their own visual effects. Titled after a soon by the Small Faces, All too Beautiful describes itself. This small canvas, whose deeply beveled stretched bars create the impression that its surface floats far off the wall. Is structured like a tightly cropped photograph, its compact dimensions laying out an exquisite slice of a gold, orange and pink rainbow. At two-by-eight feet, Science presents scores of vertical bands whose rich yellows, oranges, and browns have been meticulously aligned with their corresponding shades on the gray scale. Forming a thin horizontal stripe along the painting's bottom edge, this colorless cross-section of its lush spectrum recalls the cultural movement when color television sets became affordable and living rooms everywhere exploded with the glow of Technicolor. Bigger still is Lazy Sunday, a similarly composed electronic candy cane of a painting whose sizzling yellows, scorching oranges bubblegum pinks, and screaming magentas make Science, look muted, its measured pace a far cry from the giddy super saturation of this nearly six-by-ten foot painting's high-keyed palette.

Finally, Acquiesce II, is a mural-scale extravaganza whose vertical bands bounce your eyeballs-along with your solar plexus - back and forth between icy blue and blazing crimson, jittering (with fitful purposefulness) across all sorts of weird tertiaries, including lavender, ochre, taupe, olive, aqua, silvery gray, and chocolaty brown. Despite the dozens of unnamable colors whose fuzzy penumbras spill over into one another, Bavington's masterful abstraction never loses control. Its bands always maintaining a rhythm as wildly vibrant as it is smartly orchestrated. In a sense, Bavington does for stripe painting what Playboy did for pornography. Preferring the suggestiveness for the airbrush to the explicitness of the starkly depicted close-up, his soft rendition of hard-edged abstraction leaves room for the imagination. And his art does even more than the magazine, whose subject is already sexy. Making stripe painting look sexy again is no mean feat - whether you prefer it soft-focus or hard-core. From across the room, the largest painting in a show of new work by Tim Bavington at Mark Moore Gallery practically hollers, "Come look at me!" The Las Vegas-based painter betrays no fear of being flamboyant--and it's easy to see why: His art delivers. The 6-by-12-foot painting is titled "Aqualung (Solo)."

Along with the four other paintings and one drawing in the show, it continues an excursion into musical analogy evidenced in Bavington's first exhibition at the gallery two summers ago. Links between abstract art and music are as old as abstraction itself, but at this late date these paintings don't need the connection to provide justification for eliminating recognizable subject matter. Instead, Bavington's work amps up the ordinary rhythms of life into something fierce and exuberant. "Aqualung (Solo)" is composed from intense acrylic hues - cherry red, wisteria, lime, orange, sky blue, olive - that are often made more dramatic through juxtaposition. Like the diving apparatus of the title, the synthetic pigments extend the colors of nature - or, in the pop words of the eponymous 1971 song by Jethro Tull, "the flowers bloom like madness in the spring"--allowing entrance into an alien realm. The stripe painting brings forth rapture of the shallows. Bavington paints with a spray gun. Often one stripe is overlaid on top of another. The vertical stripes are not taped, so the edges fuzz. The reiteration of narrow vertical lines suggests mechanical repetition; the longer you look, the more a pattern of broad bands of color seems to anchor the wide expanse. Yet any attempt to decode a strict sequence or methodical arrangement of colors will be defeated. Mechanical qualities are enmeshed with fluid and organic ones.

You scan the paintings at random, and complex visual rhythms, feints, pauses and breaths emerge. The show also includes two diptychs. "Hey Joe (Solo)" piles two 4-foot-square stripe canvases on top of each other, one all soft pastels and the other loud and vibrant. "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You (Solo)" pairs horizontal canvases, the bottom one composed of stripes in identical widths and the top one syncopated. A large drawing shows how Bavington works out his compositions with pastels before pulling out the spray gun. The diptychs struggle against themselves and don't yet feel resolved. What really wails is the visual wall of sound in "Aqualung (Solo)" as well as in the slightly smaller "Crossroad Blues," which is played in the complementary key of orange. Pump up the volume!

The following essay is from the announcement card for the simultaneous exhibitions of Yek and Tim Bavington at Feigen Contemporary (New York) September 6 - October 13, 2001: Yek and Tim Bavington by Dave Hickey

One of the spectacular pleasures of teaching good art students is that you don't have to teach them. You coach a little, but mostly you just stand on the platform and watch the train go by. Yek and Tim Bavington were exactly this sort of student. They enrolled in graduate school at the university in Las Vegas in the mid-nineties as part of a group of gifted students whom I now think of as Theory Refugees. At that particular , historical moment, post-structuralist education in American universities had become more oppressive than liberating, and Las Vegas, for obvious reasons, began attracting students from all over the world who were less ideological dissenters than a new breed of adventurers, freebooters and crazy people - children of the cosmopolitan world who wanted to be artists in that world. (Apropos of this: One of Yek's first artistic acts was to change his name from Yek Wong to Yek - his ultra-polite way of excusing himself from the tribal strictures of identity politics.) In truth, The Theory Refugees came to Las Vegas for the same reasons everybody else does, for the same reason I did - for serious, high risk pleasure and the benison of a visible environment. More specifically, they came to live in a city where the modalities of statistical abstraction do battle daily with the rough contingencies of the visible world. That's what gambling is all about, and that's what Yek's paintings and Tim Bavington's paintings are about as well - That dreamy moment when the world and our idea of it come together in an atmosphere of sensuous abstraction. Abstraction becomes palpable in this moment and the palpable world takes on the shape of our expectations. Thus, in the act of completing a good painting or winning hand of cards, statistical probabilities and real-time contingencies converge and we become, just for that moment, one with the world in which we live.

This, however, is not to credit Las Vegas with anything beyond being the permissive site of Yek's and Tim's separate synthesis. What they have now they brought with them. Yek arrived in Vegas from Singapore (via the University of Texas in Austin), and he remains now what he was when he arrived, a Pacific Rim cosmopolitan with a taste for refined atmospheres, exquisite gestures and low-temperature extravagance. Not long after his arrival in Vegas, Yek began making long, horizontal paintings upon whose curving surfaces Chinese calligraphy floated in pale atmospheres - Mandarin Ruschas we called them. Gradually, the calligraphy began moving to the edges, the supports became square, curving in on themselves so the surface disappeared, and the atmospheres began to predominate. The paintings took on the aspect of deco-portals, elegant objects opening into ice-cream infinity. Tim Bavington arrived in Las Vegas from Shepherd's Bush in London (via Art Center in Pasadena) and he remains now what he was then, the thinking man's Mod - the progeny of Quadrophenia and Bridget Riley's great paintings from the Sixties. When he arrived in Las Vegas, Bavington was painting hard-surfaced, west-coast monochromes, studying Bridget Riley's work from the seventies, drawing comic books for The Simpson's, and making perfect forgeries of Ed Ruscha paintings like Dixie Red Seville Vegas Plates because he couldn't afford to buy one. Then one day, almost over night, all four of these fugitive endeavors came together in a series of small airbrushed paintings of fuzzy stripes in cartoon colors.

They had it all and looked for the entire world like neon in the mist. Considered as a pair, Yek and Tim Bavington's painting share two areas of commonality - beyond their rather obvious penchant for artificial color. First, both of them have devised methods of paintings that allow for a high degree of spontaneity that is totally occluded in the finished product, so as not to mitigate the viewer's pleasure by proclaiming the pleasure of the artist. The free calligraphic gestures that frame the receding spaces in Yek's paintings are hardened in the final painting, and the line by line, color by color, improvisation that moves Bavington's musical stripes across the canvas take on a cool plasticity in the finished product. Finally, both artists owe a debt to the work of Ed Ruscha and Bob Irwin who, in their separate ways, define the domain of art as an irrevocably pictorial atmosphere, neither perfectly abstract nor completely representational, but somewhere in between, where our expectations blend with the world beyond our knowing. Yek and Tim live there.