Born in London (1992), Nina Baxter received a BA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art and currently lives and works between London and Florence. Her paintings have been exhibited internationally, including Beijing (The Field Art Centre, 2019 & 2018), Bologna (Galleria De Marchi, 2019 & 2017), Madrid (Espacio Prado, Ateneo de Madrid, 2018), Texas (Steidel Fine Art, Wimberley, 2018) and Miami (Red Dot Miami with Steidel Fine Art, 2018). Selected exhibitions in London include The Society Of Women Artists 157th & 160th Annual Exhibitions (Mall Galleries, 2018 & 2021), Affordable Art Fair (Hampstead Heath with Steidel Fine Art, 2018), Sunny Arts Prize (The Sunny Art Centre, 2017), The Royal Arts Prize 2017 IV Edition (La Galleria Pall Mall, 2017). Online exhibitions this year (2021) include Symphonia (The Holy Art, London), Serendipia (Capital Culture House, Madrid & La Paz), Euphoric (Procrastinarting, London) and Nostalgia (The Artistellar, London).
Nina Baxter’s poems have been published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Acumen and Reach Poetry. Her paintings are held in private collections in the U.K., Ukraine, Czech Republic, U.S.A. and China.
Having spent seven years previously absorbed in a world of abstract forms and geometric shapes, this new work marks a defiant return to figurative painting and intimate subjects. The reason for this change is as personal as the artwork suggests: learning to fall in love with life, with somebody else, with painting (again) but, most importantly, learning to love yourself. The paintings are representative of the range of subjects covered Nina Baxter’s new work: intimate moments between lovers, contrasted with closely cropped, personal portraits and delicate still-life. Illustrating moments of quiet euphoria: the pleasure derived from nature, in the act of painting itself and, of course, in a lover’s embrace. Baxter’s work intends to be evocative of both deeply personal feelings and our shared experiences as people.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I was born and raised in Southwest London (UK), with my parents and two sisters. We were fortunate to have access to dance classes, music lessons and all the museums, galleries, and theatres London has to offer. I grew up wanting to become a ballet dancer or a fashion designer. I would draw a lot as a child, but it wasn’t until I was at secondary school that I really fell in love with painting.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
I had a couple of very inspiring and influential art teachers who really encouraged me to explore and pursue my art practice. When it came to applying to universities and trying to decide whether to study art or history, it was one of these teachers who opened my eyes to the possibility of studying art history--an option I previously didn’t even know existed!
Whilst studying for my BA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, I maintained my art practice, painting from home and occasionally organizing exhibitions with friends of mine or showing work with small galleries in London. I knew that after graduating I wanted to paint full time.
I love seeing my work experienced by other people, I find it’s the greatest satisfaction and encouragement. I remember painting a portrait at secondary school of my dad, sitting and reading the newspaper in the garden; the expression on his face and the emotions it brought up when he saw it finished--his father had also been a painter--have stuck with me forever.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses?
Up until 2019, my art practice looked quite different to the work I am producing now. I was absorbed in a world of abstract forms, geometric shapes, and grand concepts concerning color theory, synesthesia, and the interplay between naturally occurring and man-made abstract elements in the landscape.
Between 2018-19 I had to take some time off work whilst I received treatment for my mental health. It was only after this forced break from painting and exhibiting, when everything had slowed down (for me personally, then globally with the pandemic) that I was able to get back to work again in 2020. I took the opportunity to press reset on my artistic output, get back to basics and ultimately steer my work in a completely new direction.
The result of this period of reflection and change was a way of working that is much more personal and intimate: highlighting moments and relationships between friends captured in a snapshot portrait; exploring emotional connections and sexual tension between lovers rendered on a grand scale; and meditating on personal issues such as managing anxiety, mood instability and, importantly, my relationship with painting itself.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Artists will often say this, but I do find inspiration everywhere: in moments shared with friends, out walking alone by the duck pond, in the sky, in another artist’s work, in a book or a song. However, recently, one of my biggest sources of inspiration has been found in falling in love.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
I find it impossible to imagine what I would be doing if I wasn’t creating art, because then I would be an entirely different person.