John Baird has developed a bold, flattened aesthetic to examine the interior landscape of domestic life and the slippage between utilitarianism and decoration. Scouring demolition sites for material remnants of past lives, the artist laces his paintings with these revenant fragments, creating allegorical narratives, or what he terms ‘a coded diary lurking behind each work.’
Employing paint, wallpaper, fabric and shellac, Baird’s new series of work explores a triad of stand-alone subjects – coastal landscapes, the still life and animated figuration. The artist draws from the methods of early navigators who would make silhouetted sketches of the coastline. He recalibrates this practice by removing its cartographic purpose and focusing solely on its visual value, channelling this unique aesthetic into painted imagery of Sydney Harbour in silhouette. In a similar way, Baird taps into the past in his still lives, casting a thread in the direction of accidental collage practiced by Matisse and Motherwell, among others. However instead of focussing on this technique of chance, the artist again ciphers inspiration solely from the unique aesthetic of this modern practice. The third modality of his show, coastal playground paintings, are a stylised and mnemonic window into Baird’s childhood via the witnessed behaviour of his own children.