November’s featured work is Hendrik, a painting by Cornelia Baltes



Cornelia Baltes

© Cornelia Baltes

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What or who is represented in Hendrik, a painting by Cornelia Baltes, is a little uncertain. Ambiguously, it shows a curvaceous form part-surrounded by a shock of black, sparking a variety of images. Perhaps, a dark curtain is being raised to reveal the curvy form of a woman or a dressmaker’s dummy? Or is this a faceless figure of a mannequin with a black wig? Although Baltes avoids figurative readings of her work, the title of this painting does hint at a few clues, suggesting the infamous locks of 1960s guitarist Jimi Hendrix. She has used boy’s names for some of her other recent works, but rather than spelling anything out, Baltes regards titles as  ‘a wink, a pointer and an enigma all in one’.

Hendrik was first exhibited in Drunk Octopus Wants to Fight, an installation of paintings by Baltes at the Limoncello Gallery, London, in 2016. Baltes trained as a graphic designer and her concentrated, abstracted works exist as objects that sit confidently somewhere between painting and sculpture.

Everyday observations are important to Baltes: in her sketchbooks she has developed her own pictorial iconography over time from things seen and remembered such as the yellow markings on a road or brightly coloured chewing gum in an ashtray. These are worked up meticulously into large-format works that often adopt a complex and imaginative relationship to space, both inside and outside the frame. For Turner, an exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland in 2015, Baltes installed paintings on wheels that could be moved around on the floor of the exhibition space by the audience. In 2014, her commission for Vital Arts at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, Hanging Out Again, took the form of a series of giant wooden birds along the handrails of a corridor in the Maternity Unit.

Cornelia Baltes was born in Monchengladbach in Germany and studied at Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She lives and works in London and Berlin. She was selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition in October 2011 and was a finalist in the John Moores Painting Prize (2010). Exhibitions include Double Acts, At Home Salon in Ascot, Berkshire, London (2016), Alice in Crisis, Mykonos, Greece (2016) Drunk Octopus wants to fight, Limoncello, London (2016), Gone Fishing, Centrum, Berlin (2015) and Turner, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK (2013).