Artist: Trevor Baird
Exhibition title: Cold Hard Excellent Fish
Venue: Projet Pangée, Montreal, Canada
Date: November 13 – December 18, 2021
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Projet Pangée, Montreal
Sourced from a cache of personal drawings and pictures, Trevor Baird creates ceramic works by imprinting images, comic strips, and patterns flat on plaster. Repetitive silk screening creates copies of poor images, tenderly painted like watercolours. They are then transferred to wet clay, folded into shape as a matter of decontextualization and recontextualization. This succession of duplicates and alterations reaches the point of deterioration. Thus, displayed images are merely a copy of a copy, a ghost of an image1. The predominant presence of electric blue, reminiscent of hyperlinks, recalls the networked Internet culture. All images are extractions from the artist’s overflowing stream of consciousness crystallized onto a three-dimensional object and devoid of narrative logic.
Cold Hard Excellent Fish engages a shift into the artist’s practice, slightly stepping away from his iconic vases. This particular shape was originally used in Baird’s practice as a means to heighten the importance of the imagery through worth, a push and pull dynamic between low and high culture as well as labour, value, and class. Throughout history, the uniqueness and the preciousness of porcelain vases have been bastardized through industrialization. In a complete turnaround, Baird’s sculptures evoke this radical transformation while retaining a human touch.
This new body of works still relies heavily on themes such as function, decoration, consumption, and accessibility. In Mayonnaise (2021), Reanimator (2021), and With the Rubbish Comes the Rats (2021) three lamps are formed by the assemblage of a series of vessels. Therefore, the idea of the vase is still present but entirely repurposed into a new and playful object. Eyeballs, runny noses, and chopped-up feet commingle creating uncanny cadavres exquis. At the base of one of the lamps, a lonesome flute player stares at the ground, his instrument placed on his lips. We can almost hear his melody. A collection of small ceramics adorns the walls of the second exhibition room. Each piece of the series exists somewhere between traditional representation and contemporary icon–between the talisman and the fantasy characters. As pots and ceramics tend to outlast their creators, “[…] what might an archaeologist from the future deduce about the person and the civilization that produced these works?”2, asks writer Bryony Quinn.
Trevor Baird’s practice combines the ancient language of ceramics with the contemporary aesthetic of comic books, creating hybrid objects that blend the sentimentality of DIY with the idealized perfection of industrial productions. Through repeated gestures of molding, casting, and screen printing, his work retains and highlights a process where intervention and error are introduced and cultivated through each step.
Trevor Baird (b.1990, Vancouver, Canada) lives and works in Montreal. He has studied at NSCAD University, Halifax, and holds a BFA in Ceramics from Concordia University. His work has been exhibited at the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, Lansing; Harpy, Rutherford; The Hole, New York; Projet Pangée, Montreal; and Arsenal, Toronto. In 2019, he was shortlisted for the Winifred Shantz Award and was part of the exhibition La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Canada). He is represented by Projet Pangée.