Charming Baker at Unit London
Baker’s enduring interest in what it means to be human in the 21st century has led him to explore themes such as mortality and beauty in his paintings as well as working in other mediums of sculpture and printmaking.
Charming Baker produces artworks that are deliberately confrontational and frequently explore life's most eternal themes: the reality of life and death and our experiences with joy and despair. They purposely challenge you as the viewer to, “sit up and examine your conscience,” as the critic Edward Lucie-Smith has written of the artist's work. Although Baker has historically produced works in oil with an emphasis on narrative, his more recent creations have included sculptural pieces which explore transience and the naive innocence of childhood. Baker succeeds in delivering such testing and hard-hitting themes with a level of irony and a dose of British self-deprecating humour. At times purposefully damaging his canvases by drilling and cutting into them, he occassionally pierces them with gunshots. Such techniques bring into discussion our perception of the preciousness of art and add an underlying emotional charge to the works.
Born in Hampshire in 1964, Baker spent a large part of his early childhood travelling with his father, a Commando in the British Army. Baker left school at 16 and undertook a number of manual jobs. After returning to college in 1985, Baker began studying at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, Baker began work as a commercial graphic designer and illustrator for the likes of the BBC and The Daily Telegraph, while creating oil paintings which were stashed under his bed and occasionally sold to friends and family. It was only in 2006 that Baker was persuaded to partake in an exhibition on Brick Lane in East London, when a journalist enquired about a painting on a friend's wall, consequentially purchasing four pieces. Baker's most recent exhibition titled, “Easy Come, Easy Go” at the The Vinyl Factory in Soho showcased the artist’s tongue-in-cheek exploration of mortality with a large number of his bronze sculptures, paintings and prints. Examining the very nature of art-making and its perceived preciousness, Baker's intentional erasure and damaged elements bring into question the emotional relationship we hold with art and society’s assumptions about beauty and perfection. “Nothing is only ever one thing. I don’t see why I shouldn’t bend or break an image to alter its original meaning, if only at least to entertain. Hopefully the work isn’t without a sense of humour.”