Gerry Baptist RWS RE
Born in India of Portuguese British parents, artist and printmaker Gerry Baptist has been profoundly influenced by the country of his birth, from its philosophies to the bright, vibrant colour and exuberant festivals. Baptist was educated in both England and India, graduating with distinction from the London School of Printing under the tutelage of artists George Chapman, Ruskin Spear and John Ward in 1955.
Baptist entered the emerging and exciting new world of advertising, eventually co-founded the agency Yellowhammer in 1972 and winning prestigious accounts such as Shell and Tate & Lyle. He retired from the advertising world in 1993, turning his attention to pursuing his artistic practice full time.
Coming from the world of advertising, Baptist’s interest in consumerism and human behaviour informs his work. A printer and painter, he works predominantly with woodcuts but also etching and aquatint. He makes particular comment about our love of beef and the impact our greed for it is having on the planet in a set of six woodcut prints, the Burgergate Series, whilst simultaneously referencing six famous artworks.
The Tasty Meal Deal references Picasso’s iconic, Guernica. Baptist recreates a world of mayhem and unrest in which a bull, a central, symbolic figure, creates two well-known by-products. Beef, from which the iconic and well-loved burger comes and the other, methane, directly referencing global warming. A writhing figure reaches for the food, oblivious to the highly flammable and asphyxiating gas surrounding it, whilst water wastefully floods across the bottom of the image, pouring from a faucet that has been carelessly left open.
Our world is an insanely beautiful place which we are remorselessly, thoughtlessly, pulling apart… Although there is so much to praise in what we have achieved over the centuries, we… grab more than is necessary of the world’s resources in a mindless and aggressive way.
Baptist is also a lover of literature, and often draws inspiration from well-loved characters in Shakespeare’s plays, Omar Khayyam’s verse or the greatest book of all, the Bible. One defining factor about Baptist’s work is that his comment is unbiased. He celebrates humanity, life and love at the same time as lamenting our behaviour, our greed and the predicaments we create.
Baptist exhibits regularly at the Royal Academy and has been a member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers since 2008. He has recently been elected a member of the Royal Watercolour Society. His work is part of a number of prestigious collections including the Ashmolean Museum, Bank of England and Jiangsu Art Museum in China. He also writes and teaches.