David Graeme Baker was born in 1968 in Cape Town, South Africa and grew up in Pennsylvania. After earning a BA in fine arts from Wesleyan University, Baker graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, following in the tradition of Thomas Eakins and other American Realists. He is a figurative painter who has been living in coastal Maine with his wife, Sarah, and their two young sons since 2000. The artist explains that his paintings are the result of a lengthy process of collecting and cataloging narrative and visual ideas around a theme. Clearly influenced by his family and surroundings, Baker’s paintings are emotionally evocative in their depiction of local settings and interior scenes of domesticity. Though his wife and children often serve as models, as a piece progresses the artist remains open to inspiration from varied sources, including art history, literature, photography, popular media and music. Baker has explained that often as he works a seemingly random snippet or idea will cause a burst of discursive thought that is eventually layered into his thinking about the painting; as the work progresses there is a consideration of multiple narrative possibilities and modifications to the image. The result is a transformation of the personal into the archetypal. Baker endows humble interiors and the lives that are lived in them with a mysterious sense of dignity and purpose. The precision and lush detail evident in Baker’s paintings transport the viewer beyond what is merely observable into a deeper experience.
“The narrative painter is like a novelist, he must explore the psyche of the characters in order to give them credibility. The outcomes, rather than clean, iconic meta-images or narratives, are paintings with more purposefully modest, tangled, personal threads that function as springboards for empathetic contemplation. The resulting paintings are a mix of reality, memory, and fiction.” - David Graeme Baker