"90", Drawings and Paintings by Joby Baker

Posted by Lauren Clark on

No Barns. No Trucks. No Chickens.

“I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence and memory trace of past events, as the snail leaves its slime.”
So said one of the greatest painters of the modern era, an Irishman, Francis Bacon. A man, who spent his entire life painting what he felt and saw and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams to leave his mark burned in the annals of art forever.   

Joby Baker isn’t from Ireland and didn’t dig out bodies from the blitz in WWII, but he sure as hell can paint with the same conviction. And if anyone has any doubts go take a gander at his current exhibition expertly displayed at the newly located Lauren Clark Gallery on Railroad Street in Great Barrington.

A lot can be written about when it comes to describing art, and most of it makes little sense to anyone including the artist. Duly noted, upon seeing this exhibition I felt compelled to write something even if I had no clue what that something was going to be.

The gods were awake to my conviction and as luck would have it I managed to catch up with Joby relaxing with Lauren Clark in her gallery. In true form he had very little to say about his own work.
However, the old adage Like attracts Like often rings true and after a few sentences if anyone had seen the three of us talking they would have thought we were recently reunited lifers spilling the beans on the whereabouts of the stashed goods.

“I do love Schmutz on the canvas” Joby says, straight off the bat. “It can’t make the painting any worse.” We laugh as I scribble.
Joby continues, “And I’ll paint with anything on anything if I have to.”
He points to one of the large figurative works, “See that one?” He smiles.  “I used all house paint… Probably a dollar’s worth of materials all told.” 

  He knows I am not fooled, and then takes the time to share a little bit about his life as a painter.
“I started out with a group calling themselves the Nueva Presencia ("new presence")  founded by artists Arnold Belkin and Fancisco Icaza in the early 1960s. As one might expect they were a radical bunch responding in much the same way as Francis Bacon was to the WWII atrocities. We shared an anti-aesthetic rejection of contemporary trends in art and a belief that the artist had a social responsibility.”

“From there, I was accepted into the Bay Area Figurative painters circle, working primarily with the talented Nathan Oliveria.”

He lets me absorb the tonnage of his credentials as I take another look at the work spanning the past 25 years of his multi-talented prolific life. It’s easy to forget where I am and dive head first into one of his large canvass, become energized with the brush strokes and scream.

To the side are a set of monoprints with words inscribed underneath them. “Dory wrote those.” He said, “They took her a long time.” Not knowing who Dory is, I ask. And with heart felt earnestness Joby replies, “You can’t write an article about me without reading about Dory first.”
“Okay,” I say.

“I also make jewelry. Here’s one of my pieces.” He takes off a ring and hands it to me over the coffee table. My first response is to kiss the stone inlaid in silver. I refrain, say nothing, and try it on. It fits perfectly. For a second or two or three I think about running out of the gallery. The gods would be mad.
“Were you here for the opening?’ Joby asks, “It sure was a fun time.”

‘Briefly,” I say, trying to make out I had other pressing assignments to report on, when truth be told, crowds mixed with alcohol scare the crap out of me.

“Did you hear what Mark Mendel said?” Lauren asks Joby. I reluctantly return the ring, and make a note to find out who Mark Mendel is. “No,” replies Joby.  “He said, it’s the best show he has seen in the Berkshires in over 25 years!” Joby smiles. Lauren smiles. I smile.

“Well” says Joby. “You won’t find any barns, trucks or pussy cats here!”  
What about chickens I ask?

-from an interview with John Lawson, Lauren Clark fine Art 2014

A few paintings from the show:

 

                                      

                                                                

oil on masonite, 24" x 18"

 

 

                                        

                                                                      "Seated Figure"

                                                              oil on masonite, 24" x 18"

 

 

                                     

                                                                   "Campfire Man"

                                                            oil on masonite, 23" x 17"

 

 

untitled
oil on canvas, 24" x 18"

 

 

 "Dear C"
oil on masonite, 20 1/4" x 20"

 

untitled #2
oil on masonite, 24" x 18"

untitled
oil on masonite, 32" x 24"

 

oil on masonite, 20" x 20"

 

oil on masonite, 20" x 20"


untitled
oil on masonite, 32" x 24"
 

 

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