LOST YEARS - JOHN BALDWIN: A RETROSPECTIVE

I first encountered Baldwin sometime after 65. It was a time of flux, the times, as they say, were a changin. 

Baldwin the vagabond beatnik had just landed back from New York in an alcoholic haze with no luggage but plenty of baggage. 

While in New York he had swirled around the counter cultural hotspots of that time. Look carefully at those grainy black and white films that came out of Warhol’s Factory. In the background behind Nico and Edie Sedgwick in some shots you can just see Baldwin hovering in the shadows. 

In Greenwich Village he mixed company and drinks with the likes of Claes Oldenberg, Jasper Johns, Ulan Nagardo and George Segal. By then he was seriously infected by American Modernism, particularly abstract painting. 

Once back on this side of the Atlantic we find Baldwin at Leeds College of Art ostensibly to pursue his own painting. However, other distractions would soon start to come to the fore, this after all was the Swinging Sixties, and within this Baldwin discovered something he was rather good at, namely, as a promoter of rock bands in the emerging music scene of the time. This was a heady cocktail of sex and drugs and rock and roll, and Baldwin was determined to get his slice of the action. 

As was the case with so many who drank deep and long from this crazy brew, its temptations and intoxication’s came at a heavy cost. “I was lost, don’t ask me where, for many years..... only resurfacing in my late thirties”. With this reawakening Baldwin threw himself back into “my new addiction – painting”. This return to source was like his own personal Wagnerian Ring Cycle, heralding a rebirth of his creative powers. 

In more recent times we would occasionally cross paths, now he seemed like a man remade compared to the cultural vagrant of previous years. 

This exhibition is testament to an artist in full flight. Someone who had lost the motivating spirit early in his career only to be rescued from this wilderness by its miraculous rediscovery some years later. 

Rabo Karabekian, Karabekian Foundation. 

Yerevan Armenia. 

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