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Surreal Sculpture

by Ho Baron

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 2012
ISBN: 9780985349707
Publisher: Gallant Link

Part monograph, part manifesto, Baron’s (El Paso, 1981) illustrated book presents an overview of his life’s work creating “embellished fantasy images.”

Baron’s title, although meant to be tongue-in-cheek, signifies the cosmic nature of his art. His pieces appear as if they were discovered among the ruins of some Mesoamerican tribe theorized to have communicated with extraterrestrial beings. They are presented variously in cast reliefs, cement and rebar sculpture, and early line drawings on black-and-white photographs, but Baron’s favorite medium is the less ephemeral bronze, since, he writes, “who knows, they may just have immortality.” After encountering some resistance from neighbors over the monumental “Buddha-like figure” made from concrete and stucco in his front yard, called the Water God, Baron invented an imaginary kingdom in which to place his hallucinatory sculptures—many of them totems in human form, riddled with gaping eyes and mouths, which reflect the artist’s “theory of the multiple self.” Baron claims his favorite artists are writers. Influenced by Jungian archetypes and the writings of Joseph Campbell and Herman Hesse, the accompanying text has an energy that parallels the intensity of his art and the unique mythological universe in which it orbits. All of the sculptures have a melting fluidity, and his strongest subjects are those that move—contortionists, ballerinas, animals—especially A Novel Romance, which resembles a sci-fi pas de deux, and the adorable yet disturbing Post Nuclear Dog. However, instead of letting his art speak to the viewer, Baron has a tendency to overanalyze and provide too much exegesis, including transcribed statements and rhyming verse from previously posted YouTube videos. Baron shares his early experiences in a “cartoonists’ commune” in Belgium, where he chose fine art over writing, all while honing his sense of humor. Although many of Baron’s creations appear deadly serious—some downright terrifying—his thoughts on them can be amusing: “Some traditional Catholics still cross themselves when they pass my house.”

H.R. Giger meets Keith Haring, illuminated by the artist’s engaging insight.