In this deftly executed graphite drawing, the smoke dissipating into the sky—ephemeral yet looming—is a reminder of the fragility of civilization. Although the artist’s Smoke series appears innocuous at first, each work depicts emissions from power plants and explosions at factories. Influenced by her deep knowledge of art history, Baker employs classic academic techniques to create virtuosic drawings; her work frequently explores the concepts of power and masculinity in politics, history and finance. The artist crops and obscures certain information in her works to focus on what can be discerned about status in a gesture or a single image—creating compelling observations of an empire in decline.
Melanie Baker’s drawings explore concepts of power and masculinity in the arenas of politics, history and finance. The artist’s portraits of people in powerful positions feature details that implicate how their policies impact the planet. Baker’s work deftly combines a virtuous handling of charcoal and graphite with classic academic techniques drawn from a deep knowledge of art history—creating compositions that serve as compelling observations of an empire in decline.