It is December in London. Out in the countryside, it is a cold evening with a dark winter sky, which at times turns green, and the chilly forbidding landscape appears empty except for the tall shapes of trees, some solitary, some in groups, reaching up so that they touch the darkness above them. But wait, in the distance, there is a solitary figure wandering through across the frosty fields. The 18th century British artist John Constable painted landscapes that celebrated the joy of the countryside; in contrast the contemporary British artist Ged Quinn (born 1963) paints landscapes that are dark and eerily reflective, inspired by the German poet Wilhelm Muller, the English poet William Wordsworth, Carl Jung’s book ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ and the German artist Albrecht Durer, with Quinn’s imaginary alter ego wandering through the cold winter’s night, dreaming of the warmth he has left behind and has yet to find again.
In contrast, American artist Ed Baynard’s paintings are more colourful and more graphic, as would be expected when you find out that he was a graphic designer for the Beatles, and a clothing designer for Jimi Hendrix, but devoid of people, not even the solitary traveller of Ged Quinn. Baynard (1940-2016) turns plants, bowls and memorabilia into precisely-arranged patterns where not one leaf is out of place and where, unlike Quinn, there are no dark sinister shadows to worry the traveller.
The advantage that Stephen Friedman Gallery has with its two spaces facing each other Old Burlington Street is that it can hold exhibitions on one artist split across the two spaces, or two different artists, who may have some subtle link, such as different stylistic perspectives on the natural world,