Christopher Baker has a relentless commitment to landscape painting. His forthcoming exhibition has two themes : the silent wastes of Norwegian Arctic, and gleaming West Sussex rural beach at Climping-on-Sea at every season and in all weathers, painted from the same spot. Showing at The Osborne Studio Gallery 26th September until 14th October www.osg.uk.com
Impressions of rock, snow, ice and water in the Norwegian Arctic, were captured at speed in freezing temperatures, then re-created in the artist’s Arundel studio.
The project involved gruelling travel in the Norwegian Arctic, depicting the scene on a giant board-bound sketchbook, 23 kilos and over a metre long, working en plein air in high summer, when his paints would be frozen by dusk.
A dedicated, solitary artist of unswerving commitment – professors of art have praised his ‘spiritual engagement’, freshness and truth. New image of canvases in the studio, tells a story of his latest passion, to make ‘eight footers’ from the silent Norwegian Arctic landscape.
Baker’s long experience of composition and colour harmony gives him the freedom to work beyond the framework of traditional landscape. In the Arctic paintings colours are muted, the surface may appear spontaneous, but it is complex with layer upon layer of brush strokes and glazes. The paintings are responses to the huge landscapes whose force he expresses. Baker acknowledges the influence of John Constable, whose 'six footers' brought a new grandeur to landscape, in his time considered a lesser genre.
The exhibition, inserted like a ship in a bottle into the domestic proportions of the Osborne Studio Gallery, comprises a collection from the sixty of more Climping beach scenes, and one eight footer of the Arctic, following Baker’s Cummingøya expedition.
To quote art historian James Hamilton, biographer of Turner and Constable, 'There is an explosive energy in the Climping canvases where even the expression of a quiet day by the sea reveals nerve-racking broody undercurrents. These paintings are neither impressionist nor expressionist, but collected ruminations of a contemplative mind caught in a restless body. They are offspring of thought and feeling.'
Professor David Carpanini, Baker’s teacher and mentor many years ago, writes to illuminate this very point : ‘He is not a repeatist artist, indeed there is a skill and freshness in the way he handles his subjects, which is truly mesmeric. ‘
In Baker’s own words ‘I reach for an inner vision that is only felt. Gradually what was seen from the dark is brought forward, brighter, whiter, more intense, pure hues, that shine inwards from the outside.’
Brief biography – Christopher Baker studied at West Surrey School of Art and Design, and Exeter University. He is founder of the School of Landscape Painting, Arundel. He has exhibited in the UK and Canada. Gallery director Geoffrey Hughes has been inspired by Baker’s search for the spiritual, eschewing solid objects and detail. To quote another scholarly sentence from James Hamilton ‘These paintings are collected ruminations of a contemplative mind caught in a restless body.’