Baines’ paintings ‘lost in a surreal world’

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“Pecking Dis-order”, 2020”

Art / “Reality Is OK For A Holiday”, Andrew Baines, nancysevergallery.com.au until further notice. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

REALITY is in the eye of the beholder, but if you are Andrew Baines, reality may be a surreal place that is filled with dreamlike images.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us, many galleries have released their exhibitions online. The Nancy Sever Gallery in Braddon is doing their bit to keep the love of art happening with their exhibition “Reality is OK For a Holiday”, by Australian quasi-surrealist painter Andrew Baines. It’s available to view free online at nancysevergallery.com.au/new-page-73

Reviewing an exhibition of artworks online may be a bit surreal in itself, but with the art of Andrew Baines, that sort of helps.

“My Cat Ranks Me Just Above A Throw Pillow”, 2019

The titles of Baines’ artworks are as interesting as the images they represent. In his painting, “My Cat Ranks Me Just Above A Throw Pillow”, 2019, there’s a story going on that perhaps only the artist can understand, but it’s fun to look at and gets a viewer thinking.

Almost all the works on show in this exhibition have a sense of lightness and fun, while being highly artistic, they are perhaps a view not of a finished painting, but a peek inside the artist’s mind.

Land, sea and sky figure prominently in all the works on display. While some of the people and animals are not situated in but on these imaginary images, most things seem to be clean, idealistic and untouched by human hands. Not that they are sterile, it’s just that the extent of human existence does seem to be removed; a lot like a dream.

“Composed Cows”, 2018

The picture titled “Composed Cows”, 2018, which has several cows standing in the water on a beach and looking at the viewer, seems to be saying, what are you doing here? Why are you looking at us? It’s unsettling because it has cows out of place. It has cows free to roam and go where they want, unlike reality. The artwork says a lot more than what the title conveys.

In “Pecking Dis-order”, 2020, there are five people in white lab coats, each holding an umbrella while standing on a shoreline. They may be pictured being tossed around by the wind, they may be performing a choreographed dance, or they may be conducting an experiment. Whatever they are doing, it holds the essence of this exhibition.

That artwork has an idea within an image that’s hard to put your finger on. Like all the works in this exhibition, it says something about the state of humanity lost in a surreal world. It says, maybe this is all there is. This unreal place is our reality.

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