Glen Baxter: the iconoclast from Leeds

Glen Baxter prepares to meet his admirers
at Flowers Central, Cork Street

Who would not want a bit of a lift on a dark Thursday evening in winter? And above is a photographic portrait of the masked man who gave it to me, freely, gladly, unapologetically. 

The name of this posing man is Baxter, Glen, the artist/humorist from Leeds. And what is the occasion? I hear you ask. 

We are standing in a gallery in Cork Street, Mayfair, waiting for an event of some significance to begin. The event in question is the private view of Glen’s new show  of work at Flowers Gallery, and it begins at 17.30. Hence my standing here opposite him at 17.34. We are having a desultory conversation of sorts. 

copyright Glen Baxter (2021). Image courtesy Flowers Gallery

Glen is fretting a little. He wants there to be relatively few people here – the event is scheduled to go on for at least two hours – because the space is relatively small, and there may be the risk of toxic in-breathings and toxic out-breathings. 

At present there is no one here barring the gallerist and a rather shifty looking poet sporting a fine walking stick who seems intent on scrutinising the artworks on the wall. I admire him for this. 

Copyright Glen Baxter (2021), image courtesy Flowers Gallery

It seldom happens at private views of art shows because there are usually two powerful alternative sources of interest: wine and conversation. There is no wine here this evening. 

The name of the scrutineer is Kociejowski, Marius, and he is a poet. He is also wearing a hat, low set, which makes it difficult to read his face.

Glen Baxter (2020), image courtesy Flowers Gallery

May I take a photograph of you? I ask Glen. As I prepare to snap him, I admire his overcoat and his yellow scarf. The ensemble is fine, if not elegant, entirely what one might expect of a Yorkshireman from Leeds. 

It puts me in mind of a scene of ‘Park Row’ in central Leeds painted in oils by John Atkinson Grimshaw in 1888, another Leedsman, who in that painting was busy evoking its civic splendour as a great metropolis. What a painting that is!

Copyright Glen Baxter 2021 image courtesy Flowers Gallery

Glen does not paint Leeds. Some of the best of his works are delightful, fantastical evocations of the absurdities of the art world, peopled by know-nothing cowboys who stand mesmerised in front of the kinds of squiggles, splashings, splurts and splurges that are raised up on golden platters for the delectation of monied chumps by dealers and other bogus connoisseurs. What a romp it all is!

‘Inexplicably Vermillion’ is on display at Flowers Central, 21 Cork Street until 19 February 2022.

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