these paintings by American artist Richard Baker remind me of scenes from South African holiday homes all over the country – well used paperback novels and vintage versions of Monopoly (that you still play with your family, every summer). the old copy of Pit made me laugh, a game that Anton introduced me to that his family have played for decades. have you ever played it? it has to be the loudest, most chaotic, funnest card game ever.
Baker is known for his still life paintings, in particular the literary classics he favoured in his youth: works by James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac etc. the paintings are true-to-size, and capture the details of not only the covers themselves, but also the wear and tear of the books over the years. “I feel like a conduit allowing the social conversation to blossom in what books I’m painting,” Baker says (Artsy).
As physical objects, the books represent the lure of memory, reverie, desire, and love. Baker’s paintings are imbued with the recognition of books as powerful fetishes, icons, and containers of memory and emotion that serve as stand-ins and time-specific chronicles of our lives – accumulating the marks, stains, and innocent abuses associated with personal history and experience. He also includes the spine of the books in perspective, representing the books as objects of contemplation while also creating the illusion of space around the books. – Gregory Lind Gallery