LYDIA BAKER | NEW WORKS
Wilder gallery is pleased to exhibit a new series of drawings and monotypes by Lydia Baker. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and first presentation in the UK.
Undulating mountainous peaks, flowing rivers and pools of water demark the landscape of Lydia Baker's alluring and mysterious world. The recurring motif of water symbolises vitality, fertility, purity, rest and respite. These landscapes make reference to female anatomy, sometimes subtly with fluid and feminine forms and at times more directly, such as the abstracted torso in Only Under The Light Of The Moon. Natural, physical elements are animated and humanized. In Two Worlds Collide, roots look vein-like and soil horizons take on the appearance of human tissue. The artist references ovulation with clusters of egg-like seed pods and the recurring motif of the glowing moon. These are matriarchal environments where fantasy, anatomy and the spiritual intermingle confidently, poetically and unapologetically and intrigue, awe and haunt.
Rich harmonious spectrums of respective pink or blue palettes colour the drawings. Popular conceptions of pink allude to sweetness, playfulness, nostalgia and nurturing. When combined with magentas and corals they become complex and full-bodied, taking on a more serious and fiery intensity. Blue is often understood as a calming, tranquil, peaceful and spiritual colour. Conversely, it also has associations with depression, anxiety, gloom and feeling 'blue'. Baker describes the colour shifts as depicting the same dreamscapes at different times of the day and taking on different moods. In Only Under the Light of the Moon, a figure is seen emerging with small spikes across her body and in Two Worlds Collide, a blue figure with red thorns seemingly trespasses the pink fantasy world. Lighter values allude to distant memories and dreams whereas darker values denote the present. When these highly contrasted values are used together, reality is hazy, the time of day becomes unclear and waking life, dreams and imagination confound. In Memories and a Small Body of Water, the dark blue figure is relaxing but confronted with 'memories' of the floating figures of her past. With day turning to night and the ebb and flow of colour, there is a sense of shifting temperatures, changing seasons, phases of the menstrual cycle, and of one's internal ticking clock. Time is at the forefront of what has transpired, memories revisited and anticipation for what is still hopeful.
Dotted within the landscape are watchful, matriarchal figures; gentle giants that oversee, cradle, offer guardianship and protection, and perhaps both observe and learn. The juxtaposition of scale of the landscape and figures further heightens the unsettling, uncanny and surreal nature of these dreamscapes. In the monotypes, the maternal figures take the center depicting nurturing, devotion, sacrifice and universal life stages of menstruation, conception, and birth.
The artist's choice of working with colour pencil is deliberate. For many, childhood memories recall moments spent sitting and drawing with colour pencils, creating from imagination. There is a familiarity and beautiful tenderness to this connection that the artist builds upon. Informed by her own experience of living within a female body and interpretations of cycles of time and change, she engages with multiple layers of experience. Furthermore, Baker is also challenging preconceptions of drawings as preliminary studies for paintings and invites a dialogue about the misconceptions of material hierarchy in the art world. Created with a tremendous amount of labour-intensive mark-making, a mastery of colour development and layering, and using high quality museum grade pigments, Baker contributes a compelling argument to the ongoing conversation and expands dialogues of what her medium can deliver.