Centered on themes of nature and the cycle of life, artist Jonathan Baldock presents a deeply personal and resonant exhibition this month at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, a show that reflects on the artist’s relationship with his mother and her garden. Arranging a selection of new works in wall-mounted sculpture and ceramic, Baldock presents a peaceful and expressive meditation on human emotion, quietude, and the experience of life in nature.
The artist’s work takes a number of different lines of expression through his own life and that of a broader spiritual relationship to the earth. The artist, who holds a deep connection with his mother, and learned many of the crafts used in his practice from her, pulls from her own relationship with her garden, her flowers, and her sun, each in turn creating a series of overlapping connections that explore the act of nourishing and care. Finding inspiration in his mother’s garden, Baldock has created a series of works based on flowers. Faces appear within them; floral forms and human body parts adorn vases and far-reaching roots crawl along the ground below. A large sculpture, the Mother Flower, reflects Baldock’s theatrical and immersive style.
Equally, decisions around of material and the artist’s interest in anthropology are on view throughout: ceramics are formed of clay from earth and textiles are derived from plants. Exploring the origins of his perspective as a queer artist, Baldock’s narratives include his family history. His relatives were farm workers, and he has been directly inspired by Western folk art, which saw those working the land and close to nature being creatively influenced by it. Here, Baldock presents his work, meditations on nature and care, as much as a reflection of social dynamics and shared welfare, the garden in turn becoming a site of shared labor, shared destiny, ad possible liberation.
Working in a performative way through his assemblages, Baldock brings the viewer, the object and the space they occupy into question as theatre or a ritualistic act. Full of physicality and wit, the artist’s work also occupies a macabre quality, simultaneously considering change, aging, grief and loss.
The show closes February 25th.
– D. Creahan
Jonathan Baldock at Stephen Friedman [Exhibition Site]