Artist

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Alec Baker

Alec Baker

Alec Baker was the first senior desert man to begin painting at Iwantja Arts in far north South Australia in the early 2000s, which was, at that stage, still primarily a craft centre where women made beads, batiks and woven baskets. A career stockman and master of his country, Baker commenced painting, inspired to paint the lessons and stories of his country to educate the future generations destined to look after Pitjantjatjara country. Working daily at Iwantja with his fellow friends, stockmen and artists, Whiskey Tjukangku and Peter Mungkuri, the senior men still talk daily about their memories of their droving days, painting the stories of their lives and knowledge of the country on their canvases.

“We’ve been teaching people the stories we have, and about our culture, and knowledge from our stockmen days – about riding horses and country. Sometimes we think who’s going to run this place when we go away? They need to learn the lessons about country, and be strong to look after this place. I’m thinking when I making my paintings, how to make him a good painting, a strong one. Sometimes I’m thinking about the colours, sometimes I’m just thinking from my memory all the country I’ve been at, all the stories I have.”

Passing down the traditions of his people is integral to Alec Baker’s artistic practice; however the artist is wary of revealing sacred knowledge and does not paint Tjukurpas (dreamings). Instead, the artist paints the patterns of his country that come from his mind and memory, developing his own unique visual language, taking his art from not only storytelling – but into the realm of a truly creative and innovative contemporary Indigenous art practice.  

Baker’s successes are continuing to grow as his practice matures, the artist was a finalist in the 2014 38th Alice Prize – National Award for Contemporary Art, and a finalist in the 2016 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, where his work was acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. He was also a finalist in the 2016 Len Fox Painting Award at the Castlemaine Art Museum, Victoria.

Working in a monochromatic palette for the first time, Baker’s wonderfully delicate and precise hand was highlighted in Alcaston Gallery’s 2016 exhibition Mayatja Pulka: Big Boss, which featured a significant body of work by the artist on paper, alongside the exuberant works of fellow Iwantja artists Tiger Yaltangki and David Frank.

In 2017 Alec Baker was named a finalist in three prestigious art awards; the 34th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, the Hadley Art Prize, Hadley’s Orient Hotel, Tasmania, and the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing, Adelaide Perry Gallery, Sydney.

In 2018 Alec Baker was a finalist in the Hadley Art Prize, Hadley’s Orient Hotel, Tasmania for the second consecutive year and was the WINNER of the 45th Muswellbrook Art Prize at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, New South Wales. Most recently his work was exhibited in A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne, and in the dynamic exhibition Weapons for a Soldier at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery in New South Wales.

© The Artist, Iwantja Arts and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2019

 

Solo Exhibitions:

2017        Alec Baker & Peter Mungkuri: Kunpu Mayatja Kutjara – Two Strong Culture Bosses, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2019        Tjilpi & Pampa – Senior Iwantja Artists: Alec Baker, Peter Mungkuri, Betty Muffler and Nellie Coulthard, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2008       Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2010       Tjukurpa Pulkatjara, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

2011       Sandhill Country: Paintings by Iwantja Artists, Booker Lowe Gallery, Houston, Texas, USA

2011       Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2013       Our Mob, Anita Chan Lai Ling Gallery, Hong Kong

2013       Harvey Arts Projects, Idaho, United States of America

2014       Viscopy, Boomalli Art Gallery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2014       Songlines Project, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

2014       Aboriginal Art from the Eastern APY Lands, Kelch Gallery, Freiburg, Germany

2015       TARNANTHI – Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Australia

2015       SALT, McCulloch and McCulloch, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2016       The 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2016       Mayatja Pulka: Big Boss, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2016       Nganampa Kililpil – Our Stars, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea, New South Wales, Australia

2017       Artists of the APY Lands, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2017-18   TARNANTHI - Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australia

2018       Art of the APY Art Centre Collective, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2018       Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2018       Four Strong Men, One Strong Story, Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2018       A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2018       Iwantja Arts Fundrasing show: Nganana Kuranyukutu Ma-Palyani, APY Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2018       Nganampa Ngura Kurunjara: The Place of Our Spirit, Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2018       Weapons for a Soldier, Hazelhurst Regional Arts Centre, Gymea

Awards:

2014       Finalist, The 38th Alice Prize: National Contemporary Art Award, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2016       Finalist, The 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

2016       Finalist, Len Fox Painting Award, Castlemaine Art Museum, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia

2017       Finalist, Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing, Adelaide Perry Gallery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2017       Finalist, 34th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award

2017       Finalist, Hadley’s Art Prize, Hadley’s Orient Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

2018       Winner, 45th Muswellbrook Art Prize, Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia

2018       Finalist, Hadley’s Art Prize, Hadley’s Orient Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

 

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