Adam Baker on Painting and The London Cabaret Scene 

by Ranji Safarian
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Adam Baker is an abstract-figurative painter working mainly with oil paint. His practice explores Queer themes and the tragicomic realities of human existence. His work’s inherently subversive nature exists in striking contrast to the conventional medium and techniques typically associated with oil paint, and is emphasised by the artist’s own interest in the LGBTQIA+ community and its relevant issues.

The following, is part of a series of interviews, conducted by Ranji Safarian, as part of the group show, “Enigmas of Identity“, currently showing at EDJI gallery.

For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your practice and style?

My practice explores the varying emotions, stages, and interactions of often romantic relationships, from the mundane to the intimate, the joyous to the melancholic. I like my characters to have an element of defiance to them, setting them in an environment that feels familiar yet not quite real. The combination of fluid, anatomically incorrect shapes, and distorted proportions as well as my use of mark making, texture, colour and contrasting painting techniques all contribute to my overall style.

What marked your entry into the art world? Have you been creating from a young age?

I have been creating art since an early age. I then changed course at twenty years old when I started performing cabaret and channelling my artistic force through the creation of my performances. After a few years I decided to return to painting, initially using my experiences working in the London cabaret scene to inform my work. Since then, it has been a long journey of exploration during which there have been many experiences which have informed my artistic life and career.

Can you name a few influences – visual artists or otherwise who you return to for reference and inspiration?

My influences range from the smooth, sleek, glamours works of Tamara De Lempicka to the garish, clashing, textured, dark scenes created by the artists of the German expressionism revolution. I like to express varying references from art history in my paintings in the hopes of creating something new but with a sense of something before. Architecture and nature also inform my work either researched or from the influences of what I have observed in day-to-day life.

How has your style developed over the years?

Since graduating from Wimbledon in 2018 my style has come along way. I started with using found photography from the 1920s and adapting that into my own scenes; slightly queering the original intention of the image. I then moved into using my own images of family members, friends and lovers as references, adding a more personal tie to the works. From a stylistic perspective, I have experimented and explored a lot with form taking my influence from many different artists from history as well as pushing my process to further distort and stylise my figures and their settings. Experimenting and playing with the application of paint has also helped further develop my style.

Can you tell us anything particular about the paintings that you created for this exhibition? A story you’d like to share? 

I wanted the paintings created for this exhibition to explore a variation of human interactions. I have depicted figures in intimate moments within personal settings, paired with seemingly cold isolated moments with technology as the channel for social connection.  Sweet, tender and simple – sinister, toxic and complex.  It is all represented in the works.

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