"Glen Baxter is an artist in the distinguished tradition of Lewis Carroll, Sax Rohmer, Marquis de Sade, Raymond Roussel, Luther Burbank, and the Comte de Lautreamont." - John Ashbery
In Baxter’s surreal world cowboys ponder modern art, schoolboys grapple with philosophy and the world's fruits are in constant peril. In this exhibition of new and recent works on paper, drawn in the style of adventure comic series such as Biggles and Dan Dare, image and text coalesce with uncertain and often baffling results.
"Looks like we got ourselves another Serra, Sheriff" Drawled Big Jake provides a characteristic subversion of the Western genre, depicting three American cowboys surveying a monolithic sculpture snared by their lasso. The recurring theme of modern art-rustling can also be seen in "But I Specifically Requested a Rothko" Barked Ken. Here, a lone cowboy berates a Retriever, which has emerged from a distant Modernist dwelling with what appears to be a small Mondrian painting in its jaws.
Other well-known Baxter characters are revisited, including puzzled-looking schoolboys receiving a mysterious education; and Boy Scouts, who are treated to unusual campfire entertainment in Following the Confiscation of Our iPads we were Forced to Attend a Virtuoso Performance by our Patrol Leader Featuring "Alec, The Dancing Carrot".
Baxter introduces several autobiographical details in works that reveal a childhood spent in the county of Yorkshire avoiding all manner of vegetables; while examples of surreal slapstick can be found in works such as David Looked Forward to Those Quiet Sunday Afternoons in the Garden, where the banality of the everyday domestic scene is due to be savagely interrupted by unexpected wildlife.
Baxter has described his images as “sabotaging” their own sense of familiarity with an absurdist message. According to Michael Wilson (Artforum, October 2005), Baxter “...achieves a kind of social-surrealist comedy comparable to the achievements of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Vic Reeves.”
ALMOST COMPLETELY BAXTER (New York Review Comics, 2016, £14.99) is a new selection of his work which brings together highlights from the full sweep of Baxter’s long career, and is sure to enchant both confirmed Baxterians and those in dire need of an introduction.