British artist Glen Baxter is renowned for a unique style of social surrealism in which familiar subjects from popular culture are combined with an absurdist message. In this exhibition of works on paper, Baxter explores a world of illustrated characters engaged in baffled contemplation of modern art and philosophy.
Beginning with his first publications of the 1970s, Baxter developed a distinctive drawing style similar to that of mid twentieth century British comic books, combining images and text using the format of a single cell graphic panel. Loosely deriving material from diverse sources such as pulp fiction, adventure stories, 'foodie-ism', and iconic works of art, Baxter’s surreal scenarios form a playful critique of society and culture.
Baxter works with a number of recurring motifs and personas, from cowboys, schoolchildren and explorers to culinary ingredients such as tofu. The accompanying phrasing recalls 1940s-era film and storybook references, often deriving a surreal humour from the incongruity of image, text and meaning. In this exhibition, two cowboys on horseback examine a black square on the side of a rustic cabin, with the caption And I'm telling you, that's a dang-blasted Malevich! hollered the curator, while in another work, a lone cowboy punches through a canvas with the line For Big Red, it was just one still life too far. There is a subtle absurdity in the drawing He continued to threaten me with more butterflies, in which a young boy hides in a tree from another child releasing a cloud of benign insects; and a characteristic lampooning of fine dining can be seen in a work depicting a couple peering from the window of a submarine, with the caption Derek was always insisting we try out new restaurants.
ABOUT GLEN BAXTER
Glen Baxter (b. 1944) has written numerous books, including The Billiard Table Murders and Blizzards of Tweed. His work has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Elle, and Vogue. Exhibitions of Baxter’s drawings and paintings have been held in New York, Paris, San Francisco, London, Munich, Tokyo, and Sydney. His work is in the collections of the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In May 2016, the New York Review of Books published a collection of Baxter's work Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings. Baxter lives and works in London.