Baker, Kenneth (1921 – 1996)
Kenneth Baker was born is 1921 in Cape Town and passed away in 1996. He painted cityscapes, landscapes,
figurative works and flower pieces. A popular “Voice” he dramatises in a highly subjective manner the daily
discourse of life in the Cape Flats, District Six and the Bo-Kaap. Kenneth Baker’s paintings speak to us. The
emotive and somewhat primitive simplification of the figurative work recalls the paintings of the German
expressionists so do his sombre tones off set by luminous colour. No attempt is made to embellish his subject – he
tells it as it is.
Baker was a self-taught artist and found inspiration in the work of Gregoire Boonzaier in terms of style and
subject matter. Before embarking on a career as a full-time artist, Baker worked as a sign writer in the Cape Town
docks, where he immersed himself in the lives of the fisher folk. The accurate and poignant depictions of harbour
scenes and fishermen handling or selling their catch became a consistent theme throughout his oeuvre.
Baker’s landscapes are, in some instances, rooted in the same milieu as those of Pranas Domsaitis. Domsaitis was
attracted, as he was, to the highly subjective styles then flourishing in European painting. Influenced by peasant
cultures, sombre tones, intense luminosity and heavily drawn borders – light radiates from within the scene, often
intensely concentrated in the moon.
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