Always talk to flowers. Not to help them grow, but just because they might retort.
The flowers in Jonathan Baldock’s new exhibition are more likely than others to do so, because they are not just plants, they are almost human beings. It is full of petals. A mouth, eyes, and hands emerge from the pistil and stem, grasping fingers, wagging the tongue, and flapping the lips. They’re beaming, lewd, funny, and weird.
But they are not surreal for surrealism. Baldock’s hybrid human-flower garden is a tribute to his mother who not only raised him but taught him many of the crafts he now uses in his art. Throughout the exhibition’s Technicolor vegetation, one can trace the ups and downs, the hassles, the love, the intimacy, the tenderness and the tension of the relationship between mother and son. In the back gallery, a giant sunflower peeks out from the wall. Sunflower roots hang down to the floor, eyes tense and intense, always there, always watching. Mother is supposed to
With the folk and handcrafted quality of his work mixed with contemporary aesthetics and his gentle, personal approach, Bardock believes that art does not necessarily subvert the larger notions of beauty or sadness, or the gaze, or It proves that it doesn’t have to be about seeing or questioning the nature of seeing. Any of its Bohrok. It’s also how much he loves his mom.
I’ve never been into Baldock’s work, but it’s the best I’ve seen. The work is clean, beautifully crafted, clever and engaging. A truly moving, deeply endearing and impactful exhibition. It is a garden as a metaphor for familial love, kinship and relationships to sprout and blossom even when they are drenched in manure. And most of all, I missed my mother.