New York-based painter Casey Baugh works primarily with oils — both on panel and on canvas — to create an illusion of photorealism that breaks down when one approaches closer. Baugh has an instinct for light: Many of his paintings depict models traipsing about with silver, metallic fixtures, glowing TV screens and fluorescent beams. Painting the shadows and reflections caused by these devices allows Baugh to give his figures a sense of fullness and dimensionality, transmitting their presence as believably as a photograph. But upon close inspection, the brush work is actually muddled and impressionistic. While they looked like photographs from afar, the paintings are composed of strategically-placed, loose strokes that prompts our minds to form a complete picture.
While Baugh’s fixation on metal props as subject matter aids in this optical illusion, they create an overarching theme in his most recent body of work, as well. The female figures appear suffocated with wire and plastic, illuminated by a cold, blue glow akin to that which emits from our laptops and iPhones in the darkness. This light looks sinister and eerie, and the technological apparatuses in Baugh’s paintings encroach on his characters, blinding them and impairing their movements. The paintings ask us to pause and reflect on the ever-presence of technology in our lives and the effects it has on our psyches.