artnet Asks: Dan Baldwin
His gold-fused pieces are collected by the likes of Patsy Palmer and Shepard Fairey.
British painter Dan Baldwin creates paintings layered with juxtapositions of material and subject matter. Many of his canvases are fused with liquid gold, razor blades, guns, stag horns, currency, and household paint over floating symbols of opposing themes (such as children and fairy tales, war and peace, and love and death). He equates his process of crafting striking and imaginative canvases with the process of a ceramicist with his or her pot. Although he mainly identifies as a painter, he also produces book covers, pots, and album art. He has had a slew of sold-out gallery shows throughout Europe, and his pieces have been collected by the likes of Patsy Palmer and Shepard Fairey. His work was featured in Bonham’s first Urban Art auction in 2008, where his piece Apocalypse Wow—The End of Everything blew past set record sums. artnet News caught up with the artist via email to discuss his newest project, his first US solo show in tandem with PMM Art Projects. His show “End of Innocence” will be on view at PMM Art Projects starting October 22.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
My first day at art college in 1990. I knew I was creative as a child. I drew a lot and was generally artistic, but didn’t think that was a viable option. I wasn’t especially good at art in school—I wasn’t especially good at anything in school—all I cared about was skateboarding. I literally picked up a book on Joseph Cornell and started to make cabinets. I picked one up on Jackson Pollock and started to splatter gloss paint. Art was like a new world for me that made sense, where I could incorporate all these things, and that’s when I felt a moment of clarity, a way of releasing that could one day become a career.
What inspires you?
There’s a restless nature to me that cannot find contentment easily. I’ve recently started to incorporate bronze into my art practice—one soon became five. Similar to my ongoing work with ceramics, bronze is opening up areas that excite me. Casting delicate fragile objects in a permanent material like bronze is a strong juxtaposition. Within my ‘job’ there’s constant evolution, which I find inspiring—abstraction, figurative, sculpture, ceramic, mixed-media, allegorical—it moves in many areas, but links through theme.
If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
There’s such a buzz I still get from Basquiat—his story, when you stand in front of a work up close and see his footprints, cigarette butts, his energy and use of color was amazing. Also, Warhol—he was so ahead of his time, and his influence is still everywhere today. I’d go for Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta by Basquiat as I love his multi-panel works, one of the flower pieces or the “Elvis” series by Warhol, Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, and Painting (1946) by Francis Bacon—amazing colors.
What are you working on at the moment?
Finishing work on my first NYC solo show with PMM Art Projects—this show is my largest to date, and I’m very proud of it. I’ve focused on pots for the last few months—the final ones I’m painting in 20% pure gold on glazed two-part white clay urns with 3D cast toys, and various objects from childhood, life, and death. Working with gold is fun, but hard as it’s a very sticky, runny (and expensive) liquid, but it’s highly rewarding when fired and totally reflective. I’m waiting on the last of the smaller bronzes to return from the foundry, and then the final pots to be glazed so I can do the last layers—each pot has two or three firings.
When not making art, what do you like to do?
I’m relocating to Norfolk for more studio space, so it’s been an intense time, but I play with my son, who is at an amazing age (3 years, 11 months). He is a very bright, funny, highly active kid. Also, music is a big part of my life—I love drumming, playing piano, listening to music. I like browsing through junk stores and collecting source material for my art.
I also love old Beatles, and have a ’62, which I’ve owned for 25 years now, and an Alfa Romeo Spider, which I never drive anymore, and just sits there looking glum. I like the idea of a bit of gardening, but don’t anymore. I just water the plants, sweep the leaves—it’s an excuse to get out of the studio and breathe. Otherwise, watching films. The only time I relax properly is on holiday, and I never tire of the Greek Islands.
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