John Baird
Running and Windward
2–18 February 2017

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Working across painting, collage and sculpture, John Baird has developed a unique flattened aesthetic that explores 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 sail boat, the dressing table or the floral arrangement are elevated from the commonplace. 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.

The artist’s new series of paintings engages with the iconic setting of Sydney Harbour. Employing paint, wallpaper, fabric and shellac, Baird translates the link between internal and external reality by exploring how Sydney Harbour has become a symbolic expression of Australian identity. Beamy sailboats, landmarks and serene seas rendered in steely blues, sandy greens and peachy whites conjure a sweeping tranquillity that transports the viewer to a moment of stillness – be it the calm of the ubiquitous Australian coast or a quiet content within their own internal landscape.

Baird’s bold painterly aesthetic and use of collage 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. The unique visual conflation of sophistication and naivety inherent to the works creates a gentle movement between nostalgia and comfort; between forgotten innocence and the peace of the present.Working across painting, collage and sculpture, John Baird has developed a unique flattened aesthetic that explores 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 sail boat, the dressing table or the floral arrangement are elevated from the commonplace. 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.

The artist’s new series of paintings engages with the iconic setting of Sydney Harbour. Employing paint, wallpaper, fabric and shellac, Baird translates the link between internal and external reality by exploring how Sydney Harbour has become a symbolic expression of Australian identity. Beamy sailboats, landmarks and serene seas rendered in steely blues, sandy greens and peachy whites conjure a sweeping tranquillity that transports the viewer to a moment of stillness – be it the calm of the ubiquitous Australian coast or a quiet content within their own internal landscape.

Baird’s bold painterly aesthetic and use of collage 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. The unique visual conflation of sophistication and naivety inherent to the works creates a gentle movement between nostalgia and comfort; between forgotten innocence and the peace of the present.


John Baird
Running and Windward
2–18 February 2017
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