The Tibor de Nagy Gallery is pleased to present Richard Baker Provincetown/New York Works from the 80s and 90s. This will be the artist’s seventh solo exhibition with the gallery and his first at the gallery’s Lower East Side location. This show will focus on Baker's early works including many from his first exhibitions at the Joan Washburn Gallery.
Richard Baker lived in Provincetown full time between 1983 and 1993 before moving to New York and dividing his time between Cape Cod and New York. While in Provincetown Baker quietly honed his craft and began exhibiting there in the late 1980s and then in New York in the early 1990s. His Provincetown studio was in the house of the late artist Pat de Groot, where he encountered many artists including the filmmaker and artist John Waters. It was there that he met the collector Charles Carpenter who became enamored of his work and introduced him to Joan Washburn who then exhibited Baker’s work twice in 1991 and continued to give him annual shows for the next dozen years.
What made Baker’s work fresh and compelling at the time was his approach to traditional still life painting. A 1995 New Yorker reviewer wrote of his work, “Small, finely executed canvases with intellectual heft and a compelling carnal presence.” Still life subjects in this exhibition will include tools, fish, shells, flowers, rope and skate egg cases. The Cape Cod landscape is also a key element in Baker’s work as each still life sits or floats before the dunes, bay, and sea. These modest paintings (most no larger than 12 x 12 inches) take us to places with metaphorical, philosophical, spiritual and poetic meanings and feelings all the while capturing the objects with illusionistic care. Of great importance to Baker is the tactile and sensuous properties of the oil paint itself - his surfaces express command of the material while also exploring the range of its limitations. Baker admired the painters Marsden Hartley, Albert York and Philp Guston for their direct unmitigated approach to painting. Baker was also intrigued by contemporary painters Bill Jensen and Thomas Nozkowski for their honest and ambitiously experimental work.
Baker recently turned sixty and moved back to New England after twenty-five years of being based in New York. This is a fitting time to revisit his younger years when he first started exhibiting his work. It will also bookend several vital decades of mature work and the launching pad for future work.
Richard Baker has exhibited widely throughout the United States. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant and New England Foundation for the Arts Grant. Having taught for eleven years at The Mason Gross School of The Arts, Rutgers University, Baker is currently taking a hiatus from teaching to focus on studio work.