Neil Baker was born in Luton in 1974.
He graduated from the Slade (MA) in 2007.
He currently lives and works in London, England
Upon entering the gallery space the viewer is immediately confronted by a partition wall, a rather imposing construction on the usual dynamic of the space. This wall encloses a selection of new paintings by the artist Neil Baker.
A conversation between Benjamin Rowan Brett and Neil Baker, 28 February 2010
Benjamin Rowan Brett: The works feel intuitive yet decisive with subtle alterations being made in the painting process. How does the wall play part in this decision making bearing in mind its imposing presence in the space?
Neil Baker: The paintings usually arrive at there end point through a series of wrong decisions, the accumulation of these decisions can sometimes give rise to complicated surfaces but the process itself is usually unsubtle and my dissatisfaction with decisions that I’ve made will lead to sudden about turns. The decision to build the wall was an intuitive decision of the same type made in response to a number of problems that I perceived in terms of how the paintings might hang together and how they would feel in the space. As with each decision made in the paintings, this decision made me nervous. Now I have to respond to the differences between my ideas of what the wall would do to the space and its reality and respond to it in the hanging of the works.
BRB: In a paradoxical sense I hope the wall was a wrong decision. I am interested at what point the paintings feel resolved or you decide to leave them alone. Does this decision to stop feel right?
NB: Yes, the right kind of wrong decision, I hope so too. There’s not really a single way that the work on a painting ends. If I feel like I’m taking a bow after the last stroke brushes the canvas then I will almost certainly have to go back and start again. It often happens that I’ll notice that a painting is finished when I hadn’t even contemplated that I might be near the end and then again I might stop working on a painting slowly and without satisfaction like the slow decay of an irretrievable relationship.
BRB: Certain works allude to the representational, such as (apple head), depicting a figure with an apple on his head. I am aware that a painting will go through various stages of representation as it evolves, how does representation feature in the work and how does it contribute to the works abstract nature?
NB: I’m not ever setting out to make either an abstract or representational painting. I sometimes start paintings from representational jumping off points and sometimes from abstract ones just depending on what is asserting itself in the studio at the time. That might be another painting that I’m working on, something I’ve seen on the way to the studio or sometimes something I’ve read or written. Certain words or phrases become key points throughout some painting’s gestation and production so I might paint in the spirit of that word rather than in an abstract or representational mode. That might be a bit of an indirect response to your question but to try and filter the representational from the abstract is a bit of an impossible task because neither really exist and hopefully my paintings reflect that.