Dan Bayles: Built on sand

Dan Bayles, “(Site Photo 5) Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility,” 2009, mixed media on canvas, 18 x 24″
Dan Bayles, “(Site Photo 2) Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility,” 2009,  mixed media on canvas, 30 x 40″
 Dan Bayles, “(Site Photo 25) Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility,” 2009, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 80″
 Installation view. Dan Bayles, “Contract-W914NS-04-D-0009” at François Ghebaly

Dan Bayles’s exhibition, “Contract-W914NS-04-D-0009” at François Ghebaly Gallery in LA, is based on inspection photographs of the Khan Bani Saad Prison reconstruction project in Iraq. Ultimately the project was terminated due to faulty construction, and the buildings were left half-built and unused. Bayles sees the prison as a symbol of the US failure in Iraq. “If there is success to be found in the project, however, it is to see the empty shell in the desert as an unintentional sculpture or earthwork, which in its failure accurately portrays America’s foreign policy and expansionist endeavors.”

In the LA Times, Sharon Mizota reports that the new paintings, comprising loose brushwork, torn paper collage and muted colors, have “a soft-edged, ephemeral quality that belies their bombastic subject matter. Concrete and steel are rendered frail and contingent in Bayles’ hands. This misty quality speaks to the provisional, invented nature of the imagery…Somewhere between a faithful depiction and an idealized idyll, Bayles introduces fuzziness….Humble fragments, they make the grand modernist plan look as if it were built on sand.”

In Frieze Magazine, Jeffrey Ryan reviewed a 2008 exhibition in which Bayles based his paintings on  architectural renderings for the costly Baghdad Embassy construction. “Bayles not only gives us some apt metaphors for these imprudent times but also shows us how things really are: dusty, unfinished, bankrupt and empty.”

Dan Bayles: Contract-W914NS-04-D-0009” François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Through February 5, 2011.

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