Alec Baker’s topographical paintings of country rumble with energy. Dense, complex, and sprawling with movement; in each painting we witness physical phenomena and ancestral stories (Tjukurpa) that have been central to Indulkana’s spiritual history for 80,000 years. Informed by his traditional Anangu upbringing on ancestral country, Baker’s paintings speak to a life intrinsically wedded to the land.
I paint all the rocky hills and paint the Tjukurpa (ancestral story) of the women near the rock holes, the women living nearby. I like to paint everything that makes that place. All the emu tracks coming and going across the country.
The desert country of Indulkana Community is located the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote north-west of South Australia, and is an area of the continent globally famed for its artistic output. Once Alec Baker’s fathers country, Baker himself now presides as cultural authority and community leader of the region.
Now in his ninth decade, Alec Baker remains steadfast in his service to the arts, and has spent decades providing creative counsel to his peers at Iwantja Arts. As co-founder and primary leader of the art centre, Alec Baker has been crucial in providing resources and professional pathways to a roster of widely recognised artists. Vincent Namatjira, Kaylene Whiskey and fellow Michael Reid artist Betty Chimney join Alec Baker in interpreting their worlds at Iwantja, adding latitude to the diversity of contemporary First Nations painting.
Every Alec Baker painting uses his Indulkana as its stage, with each emphatically bursting with undiluted wonder. Ngura (Country) is the artist’s first solo show at our Sydney Gallery, and follows several exhibitions at Michael Reid Berlin.