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Juan Pablo Baene

Meanwhile in the Backseat

An Online Exhibition

July 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021 

Dragon, Crab and Turtle is pleased to present the work of Brooklyn-based artist Juan Pablo Baene.  Born in 1978 in Bogota, Juan Pablo spent his childhood in Colombia.  While he lived up in the cool Andes mountains, he also spent time in the interior Caribbean region where his family is from.  With his mixed Indigenous, Black, Lebanese, Spanish, Colombian and French family heritage, he developed a curiosity, sensitivity and fascination for peoples, their histories, cultures, and stories.  His background has been central to his artistic practice and inspiration.  While growing up Juan Pablo also was drawn to global phenomena such as robots (follow him on Instagram @robot1199) as well as spaceships, monsters, cartoons, and toys.  This intrigue continues on in his adult life, and such objects appear in his work not only on the walls of art galleries, but also on media such as album covers, t-shirts, magazines and murals. 


Since childhood, Juan Pablo has always had a strong connection to Spain.  In Colombia he studied in a Spanish school where he discovered art theory and history books.  Aftergraduating university, where he created huge installations and practiced radical abstract art, he moved to Barcelona for his MFA and stayed for over a decade. It was during this time his artistic focus transitioned to drawing. It was there where he also met his wife, who then brought him and their daughter back to her home in New York, where they have resided since. Having lived in multiple places—Colombia, Spain and currently New York—deepens Juan Pablo’s sense of not being from or calling only one place home. These moves have also contributed to his strong ties to family and explain how his family gives him a clear purpose in life.  Feeling like a tourist in almost every place he lives is something he embraces as a superpower!


Juan Pablo was trained in and always loved painting, and he has forever held a special interest in quirky and dense medieval codex illustrations.  He recently shared that Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci (1452—1519) and Pieter Breughel the Elder (ca. 1525—1569) are some of his all-time favourites, and Colombian-artist José Antonio Suárez Londoño (b. 1955) is also an inspiration.  


Juan Pablo’s current studio practice is heavily based in drawing, watercolour and illustration. The practice of translating images and ideas that we see and are in our minds into material form comes easily to him.  He passes time enthusiastically doodling.  His close observations of people and the world around him often lead to sketches of invented fantastical creatures, similar to how Breughel brought life from his vivid imagination into his paintings.  Juan Pablo also creates much of his work on paper and throughout the pages of endless notebooks, the same medium where Leonardo made some of his most incredible sketches and discoveries too.  Oftentimes Juan Pablo colours in his drawings with coloured pencil or watercolour—a process applied to the work presented in this exhibition.  


The selection of images for Juan Pablo’s show includes reinterpretations of 20th century cartoon icons like Mickey Mouse or coffee pots - a tribute to his love for his Colombian coffee, composite sketches of miscellaneous objects, and ideas of the future, summer and travelling.  His studies of human faces and expressions can fill apage, and there is always a friendliness, a playfulness and an airy openly approachable positivity in his work.  DCT is pleased to present eleven of Juan Pablo’s coloured drawings.  His characters might sometimes appear small or less significant existing merely on paper, but they convey messages of loaded culture.

Cosas Que Me Gustan

Watercolor, colored pencil and graphite, 22 in x 30 in

Cosas Que Me Gustan

Watercolor, colored pencil and graphite, 8.25 in x 6 in