Firelei Báez, 2024. Photo: Sunny Leerasanthanah

Firelei Báez

  • 10 April – 30 June 2024

Hauser & Wirth Somerset is delighted to welcome Firelei Báez as our artist-in-residence in April 2024.

Dominican-American artist Báez has achieved wide acclaim over the past decade for her immersive paintings, sculptures and installations that explore diasporic histories against the backdrop of colonial narratives and conventional ways of seeing, re-working visual references drawn from the past to explore new possibilities for the future.

Báez’s work is characterized by a flair for lush color, mingling between rich detail and fluid abstraction. Investigating the historical relationships between diasporic African and Caribbean cultures, and European and American colonialism, Báez often centers images of women ignored by official histories. Báez combines representational cues that span from hair textures to textile patterns, plant life, folkloric and literary references, and wide-ranging emblems of healing and resistance. Often featuring strong female protagonists, Baez’s portraits incorporate the visual languages of regionally-specific mythology and ritual alongside those of science fiction and fantasy, to envision identities as unfixed, and inherited stories as perpetually-evolving. These empowered figures’ eyes most often engage directly with the viewer, asserting individuality and agency within their states of flux. Her work is corrective; it makes space for the stories and people who have been erased or excluded from dominant narratives.

‘Making connections between seemingly disparate ways of working and histories is one of the best parts of being a visual artist. This often necessitates seeing history not as a linear process, but rather a series of repeating or overlapping patterns.’—Firelei Báez

This summer, Báez will open a major solo exhibition at South London Gallery (SLG) from Friday 28 June – 9 Monday September 2024. She will make new work for this exhibition, stemming from her engagement with the site and London archives, produced during her time spent in Somerset. The exhibition will be organized by the first cohort of New Curators with the SLG team, which is a paid year-long curatorial training program for 12 individuals.

Báez’s additional forthcoming solo exhibitions include: ‘Firelei Báez: Trust Memory Over History,’ Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (2024); and ‘Firelei Baez,’ ICA Boston, Boston MA (2024). The artist’s work is currently on view in the traveling exhibition ‘Firelei Báez: Trust Memory Over History,’ Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark (2023 – 2024).

Báez received an M.F.A. from Hunter College, a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union’s School of Art, and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is the recipient of many awards, most recently the Cooper Union President’s Citation (2022), Artes Mundi Prize (2021), and Philip Guston Rome Prize (2021).