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“Art can do something – it’s not that it should entertain but it should engage you enough; it should make you think.” (Charming Baker on his exhibition ‘Faith’s Leap’)
Charming Baker has produced sculptural pieces in a wide and varied choice of materials as well as many large-scale and detailed drawings but he remains primarily a painter with an interest in narrative and an understanding of the tradition of painting.
Baker explores well-trodden themes which are intrinsically-linked: life, love, death, crippling fear, desperation and joy. “I’m dealing with big themes of life that you can’t date, ” he says. “I like the medium of paint but what I’m interested in is the idea of reality and unreality, the human condition, death.” His works are laced with dark humour and an underlying reference to the classics. (Surprisingly, he views himself as a traditionalist – his greatest influence is George Stubbs and he admires the simplicity and romanticism of Constable’s landscapes.)
Born in 1964, Charming Baker left school at 16 and took various manual jobs before returning to college. In 1985 he was accepted onto a course at Central Saint Martin’s, where he later returned as a lecturer. After graduating, Baker worked for several years as an international commercial designer as a means of making a living while he painted conceptual art a sideline, selling the odd piece to family and friends.
Although he sees himself as something of an outsider in the art world, he has enjoyed one of the swiftest rises the market has seen in recent years. His work is in many international collections and his solo exhibitions include the Truman Brewery London 2007, Redchurch Street Gallery London 2009, New York Studio Gallery NYC 2010, Mercer Street London 2011, Milk Studios LA 2013, Sotheby’s S2 Gallery London 2016, Soho Beach House Miami and The Vinyl Factory 2018. Baker has also exhibited with the Fine Art Society and collaborated with Sir Paul Smith for a sculpture entitled ‘Triumph in the Face of Absurdity’ which was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has a continued commitment to creating work to raise money for charity and is also a presenter on Sky Art’s ‘The Art Show’.
Known to purposely damage his work by drilling, cutting and even shooting it, Baker intentionally puts into question the preciousness of art and the definition of its beauty, adding to the emotive charge of the work he produces. Edward Lucie-Smith has described Baker’s paintings as having “something more, a kind of romantic melancholy that is very British. And sometimes the melancholy turns out to have sharp claws. The pictures make you sit up and examine your conscience.”
Charming Baker lives and works in London.