The ruins of a West Frisian farmhouse razed by fire provide the backdrop for the series of large colour drawings presented by Pedro Bakker in the front space of W139. It is the house he grew up in. The artist’s memories of the place are interwoven with the history of mother and son. We see the farmhouse and the interior; the rubble-strewn floor and the Dutch cloud-laden skies through blackened roof beams, from a different perspective each time and with new scenes involving the same protagonists. Coloured pencil, charcoal and watercolour are combined in a style that recalls Pat Andrea and David Hockney with the occasional nod to Rie Cramer. Conceived and presented as a sequence of scenes from a narrative, the concept behind the drawings is far more current, reminiscent of film and video installation. It is precisely this narrative aspect that connects the presentation with the Doctor Faustus exhibition in which artists cover the walls of W139’s rear space in scenes, images and characters from this literary masterpiece.
Until recently, Bakker made collage-style paintings and drawings combining text and image. But interestingly enough, while an Artistic Research Master at the UvA, he gradually began to omit text almost entirely, while also moving towards a less apparent use of collage. Could Bakker’s reflective endeavours have achieved a place and time of their own, endowing the image with the freedom to speak for itself? That would be quite a triumph for artistic research. And that the artist simultaneously experiments with a new, narrative style of painting is, if anything, even more spectacular.
While working on MUM, Bakker came across the work of American Henry Darger. Darger’s epic oeuvre of yard-long watercolours narrating the tale of the androgynous Vivian Girls was discovered in his apartment by his landlord soon after Darger’s death. Coupled with Darger’s stylistic influence that Bakker intentionally allowed to creep into his work, as part of his Master programme, he will give a lecture entitled ‘The Magic of Baby Angles’ on the work of Henry Darger on Tuesday 30 March in W139.