One such is Bob Baker, working away quietly in Bodalla on a daring series of artworks that place art and science face to face.
Baker wasn’t always reclusive. Trained in England, when he came to Australia he was a frequent finalist in the Wynne Landscape Prize, then the foundation director of the Camden Art Gallery.
Two years ago he exhibited paintings about contemporary physics at the CSIRO Discovery Centre. But nowadays he works quietly in his home studio.
Recently I visited Baker in his Bodalla studio and at the public launch of a new painting in town.
Gone were his mischievous musings on Newton’s apple, replaced with a bold new imagining of works by the greats – Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
In “The Men of Forever”, a reworking of Picasso’s 1907 cubist work “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, Baker takes the distorted image of five prostitutes viewed through the prism of seven panes of imagined glass, with a cheeky violin on the side – perhaps a reference to mathematical string theory. As he sees it, this matches Einstein’s vision of what we think, relative to what is actually there.
Back in Baker’s studio, we are greeted by an enormous canvas in which he has extrapolated from a cubist painting by Salvador Dali, this featuring a guitar, in a limited palette of greys, dark at the left but becoming lighter at the right. As if viewing nature through a glass darkly, Baker starts with Dali at the centre and using the layers of class, creates his own work of art
“I’m not trying to copy him, I’m trying to convey the feeling of the man,” Baker says.