‘I don’t plan paintings,’ proclaims Dan Baldwin — his 15th solo show, Under the Influence, currently showing at Maddox Gallery, London — ‘everyday new thoughts and influences enter my studio through the media, and I surround myself with resource material, a resource formed of thousands of images and objects collected over the past 25 years.’
Indeed, Baldwin’s frenetic work is a physical embodiment of this chaotic clashing of media and motifs; political, religious, cultural … ‘I begin to paint,’ he continues, ‘layering and over-painting, eliminating what isn’t working, and keeping what does. Works can often take months, sometimes even years to complete. There is no grand plan or vision in my mind, I work until it’s right. Each finished work is an expression of the many paintings that live below the surface overpainted until I feel it is complete. Harmony and balance are vital, a perfect tension between my suggestive themes and symbols of life, death, memory, love, conflict and nostalgia.’
Drenched in references to popular culture, cartoons, the visual language of post-war Americana, the Manchester-born artist has cited Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George, and Peter Blake as influences — yet his paintings, rich in depth and layers of complex themes, stand on their own as fine examples of contemporary Pop Art. One of Baldwin’s key influences agrees: ‘looking at Dan’s work is like meeting old friends for me.’ Begins a certain Sir Peter Blake. ‘It looks as though at some point in our careers we used the same casting agency. I am flattered that Dan writes that he was influenced by my work. It’s fascinating to see Mickey and all the chaps used in a newer different way, and I have really enjoyed his work.’
Dan Baldwin’s Under the Influence continues at Maddox Gallery, London, until 25 October.