Working across painting, collage and sculpture, Baird has developed a bold, flattened aesthetic that calls on the interior province of domestic life, looking at how slippages between utilitarianism and decoration embed everyday objects. Scouring demolition sites for material remnants of past lives – wallpaper, fabric and flocking – the artist laces his paintings with these revenant fragments to create allegorical narratives, or what he terms ‘a coded diary lurking behind each work.’ With a lingering aura of nostalgia, the comfortable chair, the dressing table or the floral arrangement are elevated from the commonplace, while children play outside in leafy trees and boats are glimpsed on the harbour. By consciously conflating foreground and background, Baird forges a surreality that adds a dream-like dimension to his constructed spaces, enkindling our memories and inspiring our imaginations.
Baird's new series of work engages with diametric landscapes of interiority and exteriority. Employing paint, wallpaper, fabric and shellac, the artist translates the link between internal identity and external reality via symbolic renditions of still lives and coastal landscapes. Populated with beamy sailboats, iconic landmarks and serene seas, Sydney Harbour is rendered with a sophisticated naivety that lulls the viewer into an appreciation of the everyday on a purely aesthetic level. This interrogation of how aesthetics informs perception and, by extension, identity, continues in Baird’s bold depictions of interior floral arrangements, which cipher inspiration from the accidental collage practiced by Matisse and Motherwell, among others. Retro wallpapers coupled with fearless combinations of colour and thick, painterly strokes create a dense visual larder from which the viewer draws their own meaning and associations.