Rebecca Baumann is an artist who doesn't do things by halves. Her work is characterised by explosive use of colour, movement and spectacle, employing festive materials such as confetti, tinsel, smoke, balloons and streamers which are violently brought to life by fans, ball-throwers, clocks and detonators.
Seeing Baumann's work in the flesh, you can't help but become awash with a sense of joy and bewilderment. Leigh Robb, Curator at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art hit the nail on the head when she described Baumann's work as an "elegant pursuit of implausible ideas". She draws you in, arouses your curiosity and leaves you reeling with the full spectrum of resulting emotion: shock, surprise, delight and amusement.
This shrewd ability to connect with her audience has attracted the attention of big players in the art world, with her work collected by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Christchurch Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Add to that a raft of solo exhibitions, commission, grants and awards, as well as international residencies in Berlin and New York, and you have a CV which packs a powerful punch for an artist who has been in the industry for little more than a decade.
Automated Colour Field (2011), arguably her most well-known work and part of the MCA collection, is a kinetic sculpture consisting of a vast wall-mounted grid of 100 flip-clocks, each with their numbered panels replaced by paper cards in a variety of colours. The battery-operated clocks keep their own time, turning the paper cards on the minute and the hour, to create an iridescent field of colour. Her critically acclaimed 2010 work, Improvised Smoke Device, is an event based work inspired by Indian Festival of Colour. Featuring twenty-five canisters exploding in intense plumes of smoke, the work explores the notion of seeking happiness through celebration and ritual.
More recently, Baumann has been working on Colour Restraint, an exhibition with Brendan Van Hek at Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney. Open from March 21 - May 24 and featuring both newly commissioned works and existing drawings, installations, and neon, the exhibition explores dreams, surrealist agendas, ideals and illusions.
Continuing her connection with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Baumann has been charged with the task of transforming the MCA with five levels of colour, light, sound and music for the 3rd anniversary edition of ArtBar on Friday, May 29 as part of Vivid Sydney. The jewel in the crown will be Confetti International (2007) which, in true Baumann style, involves a dramatic display with a fan and conveyor belt catapulting a sea of confetti 6 metres into the air.
Colour Restraint is showing at Campbelltown Arts Centre until May 24, visit campbelltown.nsw.gov.au/CurrentExhibition for more details.
MCA ArtBar, driven by Audi and curated by Rebecca Bauman is on May 29, 2015 as part of Vivid Sydney.