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The befuddling clashes of imagery and color that compose Dan Baldwin’s paintings and pottery make for heady viewing. Most of the images, on their own varying from third-grade classroom appropriate to biker gang-style, are oddly discordant when piled one on top of the other in a profusion of line and hue.
The artist, who received formal training starting in 1990 at the Eastbourne College of Art and Design and then the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone, told us he took the long road to becoming a full-time artist.
“In 2006 I took the leap, but I’d been selling and exhibiting for years,” he said. “Not many people would be prepared for 16 years but that time was crucial for development.”
The artist, who is known for his beautifully hectic renderings of childlike themes, has spent the last year working purely with ceramics, a medium he’s wanted to perfect for about 6 years now, he said. For those projects he works with photography 3D clay casting, pure gold, lustres, precious metals, and more.
When he paints, on the other hand, it’s canvas, emulsion, aerosol, and often mixed media with silkscreen. The only medium he doesn’t have time for is oil paint. “They dry so slowly,” he said. “I need paint to dry fast so I can build up layering – ceramic paint dries so fast, it’s the opposite.”
According to this self-described workaholic, one of the best parts of being an artist is setting his own schedule, though that does mean he can never leave his work behind at the end of the day. “It never reaches a satisfaction point,” he said. “You end one work and then think, ‘Right, the next one I’ll do this.’ That’s why artists don’t retire.”
At least, that’s why Baldwin isn’t retiring. That, and he enjoys the fact that his work can trigger a response no matter what the age of his viewer. His art is a study in contradictions, he said, a dialogue between different themes. He points out that the obvious one is between life and death, but there also exist motifs of harmony, nature, war, religion, love, science, and decay, blending into one another so seamlessly that it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins.
His final words? “I love the subtle edge between innocence and death.”