Charming Baker Talks Painting and What He's Listening to
Fri, 01 Jul 2011 08:04:49
To truly make an impact, an artist must be fearless.
Charming Baker's art lives in a creative space where fear is non-existent, and boundaries have been eroded by the artist's hypnotic perspective on everybody's two favorite subjects—sex and death. Baker paints gritty, gorgeous, and groundbreaking pieces that walk a fine line between a Taxi Driver-style catharsis and classic elegance. His work is utterly timeless, evoking England's industrial underbelly with a grey modern psychedelic overtone. You'll feel it as soon as you see it, and you may never be the same.
Charming Baker spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for this exclusive interview about his art, the music he listens to, "shooting" A Conversation Piece, and so much more.
Given how diverse your paintings are, can inspiration strike at any moment? Do you feel like you're siphoning emotions through the art?
I prefer the "soda siphon" analogy. If I push things too hard it can get messy, but that's also when it gets interesting. People and things get inside me, and I can't shake them off until I've written it down, sketched it or even painted it. I am both distracted and inspired at the same time. I often find myself having an argument with people on the radio. I am forever having epiphanies without realizing that I had the same epiphany a day or so before. I just forget.
Is it important for you to incorporate different aesthetics and sensibilities into your work? It's modern yet very timeless…
The themes are timeless. It's about how you present them. Some aesthetics work better than others. It's just what fits. I'm not obsessed with what’s trendy or fashionable or what’s cool so I’m not drawn into that need to reference it.
"A Conversation Piece (Shot In The Arse)" stands out. What was your idea behind that piece? Where did the thought initially come from?
I wanted to paint a beautiful woman, but I wanted the painting to do something different from being just a thing of beauty. I wanted it to be a conversation piece. The best way of doing that was by shooting it. It's not a sexual thing, as some people have intimated, though it might be for some people. It was just another way to bring a different language to something as traditional as painting—turning something as destructive as a gun into something as creative as a paint brush.
Do you listen to music while you create? If so, who's on your playlist?
I will go looking for new music when I start a new set of paintings. I like to explore. I ask friends for recommendations. I listen to a lot of different music—rap, punk, reggae, classical, and bagpipes even. I like Gorillaz and Glenn Miller. I'm also listening to a Welsh rap group called Goldie Looking Chain who are hilarious. It's a few years old now, but it makes me smile.
Is there a certain rhythm to crafting these pieces that's encouraged by music?
I want emotional music. I want fast music. It can be a bit dark, but it can't be too melancholy or I'll just sit down and do nothing. If it's too familiar or is something that I have a massive connection to I just can’t listen to it in the studio. It has too many cues for me. I grew up listening to Northern Soul (a dance scene in northern England centred on imported soul records). It reminds me of some great times, but I can't listen to it when I'm painting.
Which artists do you continually come back to?
I often go back and look at George Stubbs. I go back to look at Canaletto too. I don't like to look at too much contemporary art because I don't want to be influenced by it. I want it to come from inside me and not from something I've seen someone else do.
What are some of your favorite films? Are there any directors whose work you prefer?
GoodFellas—I love that film. That's a dark comedy. I think the Coen Brothers are fantastic. I get obsessed with light and lighting directors—their interiors and locations and their take on reality. It’s not too obvious like a lot of Hollywood is.
Do you feel like you find a space between the jarring and the beautiful? That's really what personally struck me about your art.
I see the beauty in many things and I see the dark side in them too. They can co-exist in so many different ways in life.
What's next for you?
Have you seen Charming Baker's art yet?
Check out his site here!