Artist John Baldwin is showcasing his work in an exhibition of paintings at the University of Chester’s China Centre.
John, a member of the prestigious Chelsea Arts Club in London, attended Leeds Arts School (whose alumni include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Damien Hirst) in the 1960s. His distinctive colourful splash paintings have been exhibited around the world, and he has lectured on Western Art at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.
John was managing director of a successful family business until, in his early 40s, he returned to his first love of art, and became a full time artist. His distinctive style is influenced by American Abstract Expressionists of the 1950s and 60s, including Jasper Johns, who were known for their move away from traditional oil paints towards commercially produced household gloss and matt paints. John Baldwin began to develop his own acrylic paints and gels, which he has refined over the years to produce the characteristic striped paints he now uses.
Speaking at a private viewing of the exhibition, which runs until February 19, John said: “This is a selection of my work over a 20 year period, hence it looks eclectic but actually, if you saw it end to end you can see the link from one to the next.”
One of the pieces in the exhibition is on public display for the first time. It is a Chinese flag which John painted some time ago, following his visit to China, and inspired by several paintings by Jasper Johns on the American flag.
John explains more about his work: “I wanted to do a piece about China and I was sick of Western clichés about China.
“One of Jasper Johns’ ideas was to use images that the mind is familiar with, so he did several pieces on the American flag. He used encaustic rather than paint (which uses pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in to the canvas as an inlay.) I think the ancient Egyptians may have been the first to use it. He stuck it on with newspaper. So I decided to do a variation on that, so I did the same with the Chinese flag and Chinese newspaper.
“This was seven or eight years ago and it has had its first public outing at this exhibition, because this is the place that it makes sense to exhibit it!”
Director of the China Centre Dr Haili Ma added: “In 2009, when I first met John Baldwin, he was in the company of Sir John Tomlinson - the world renowned Wagner opera singer, who was knighted by the Queen for his musical achievements for the nation. The two Johns have been life-long friends. ‘Art shares the same passion, whether it’s Wagner, Rothko or Chinese opera, and it brings like-minded people together,’ John said, whilst introducing his friend to me.
“For the past 40 years John has devoted himself to painting and never looked back. Greatly inspired by Jackson Pollock, James Gleick and others, he developed his own unique style, which is based on chaos theory, to capture uncontrollable life.
“In 2012, John was invited by Shanghai Jiao Tong University to hold an art exhibition and gave a series of public lectures and talks in China, where his art work and public talks were extremely well received.
“It is our great pleasure to have such a distinguished artist as John Baldwin exhibiting his art at the University of Chester China Centre and all are welcome to pop in and see his inspiring work!”
Artistic Interpretation of Chinese and Global Economy by artist John Baldwin, a member of the prestigious Chelsea Arts Club; runs until February 19 at the University of Chester China Centre, 3rd Floor, Gateway House, 86 Northgate Street, Chester, CH1 2HT. Its opening times are Monday to Saturday 11 am to 5pm; late night opening: Wednesday and Thursday to 8pm.