Tuesday, April 26, 2011

John Baird

Viewing John Baird's current exhibition aptly titled "House Warming" is a journey into the meticulous, soothing interiors Baird paints so well.  Seeing this exhibition, early in the morning and alone, I felt as though I'd been invited into the private interior of quiet, urban apartment. It felt rather sumptuous to be surrounded by deep russet tones and chocolate brown, even indulgent.

 Interior with Jug
Image courtesy of Arthouse Gallery

''House Warming" at Sydney's Arthouse Gallery is a collection of Baird's still life paintings. Beautifully balanced, each piece is harmoniously composed. His paintings remind one of the highly stylised work of the famous artist John Brack, also from Melbourne. Yet although Baird's palette is fairly sombre - grey, black,olive and brown in abundance - it has none of the drabness associated with Brack's work. Many of Baird's still life paintings incorporate vases with flowers and the usual bric-a- brac of jugs, plates, bottles and goblets. A certain Margaret Preston warmth is evident with his gorgeous use of burgundy, green and slate blue.Technically, his work also reflects more than a subtle Preston influence. Dark, thick outlines and the combination of geometric and organic forms are typical.

Image Courtesy of Arthouse Gallery

Baird also incorporates vintage fabric and wallpaper, combining these materials with dark hued oils and simple dark frames. The paintings, viewed together, reflect an ordered man's love of his hearth. Some of the figurative paintings are lovely too. An elegant dark women sits pensively, long fingers resting on the back of chair as though listening to late evening jazz.

Warm Welcome
Image Courtesy of Arthouse Gallery

The  paintings in Baird's exhibition  work extremely well as a group. Unlike John Brack whose paintings explored the shadow darkness of urban life, Baird's is more a depiction of the calm utopia we try and create within our walls. Some would see his effort as too safe and myopic but it befits our epoch where the interior world, its order and design, is a balm many seek. Modestly proportioned canvases, (approximately 150 x 120 cm), the still life pieces beg to be seen alongside each other. Yet the figurative pieces seem to generate enough impact viewed alone. Strongly influenced by Cubism, Baird's work encompasses artistic influences that are easily recognisable. Yet his distinctive use of colour and form have created a truly inviting interior world that is both soothing and unique.


  1. Hi Emillia, your blog is very interesting reading. I have become a follower this evening and look forward to visiting here often. Thanks.

  2. Hi there Carolee,

    Thanks for the feedback. It's kind of lonely blogging away never knowing if anyone is reading you, so many thanks!