I started feeling like a Haruki Murakami character when I began to spend a lot of time loitering in the Paramount House Hotel: lollygagging with iced lattes in the lobby, watching A24 films in the downstairs cinema, paging through the daily news, rooftop rhubarb pastries, gold elevator, vintage pink keychain.
One of its attractions is the LobbyBoy vending machine which dispenses art among other things. You can have an original Marty Baptist canvas and buy it the way you would a Diet Coke. I started thinking about his work and visiting the machine to see if there was a new work in there - in this way, piece by piece, a Marty Baptist exhibition was slowly revealed to me.
Marty Baptist's work at top left in a LobbyBoy vending machine at the Paramount House Hotel. Image courtesy of @martybaptist's Instagram.
Eventually I bought a Marty Baptist painting - one of his iconic snakes. Like a jolt of caffeine, it energises me. Its neon brights smack me in the eyes, its resin slickness is delicious like toffee and each doll-pink scale is different from the other, undulating along the length of the Prussian blue serpent. His works are so fresh and lively - having learned of his love of Matisse, the logic of this slid into my brain like a missing puzzle piece. I have loved Matisse: big, gestural, loose, bright - since childhood - but these days tend to cleave to so many crisp, tiny details that I got sledged by the paint shop lady for selecting comically tiny brushes.
My Marty Baptist snake painting, pictured at bottom right. Also pictured: my paintings A Table For Three Generations and Some of My Best Friends.
I think about Marty Baptist's work because when everything around me is black, gothic and finicky, his work refreshes like the saltwater spray off the ocean that slaps you in the face in the wind.
Marty Baptist. Photo: supplied
Marty Baptist is the fourth in my series of creatives to take five questions.
A popular Marty Baptist motif is the sunburst and text that urges us to 'wash your face in the morning sun'. Image courtesy of @martybaptist on Instagram.
When my creative process is stuck, I reach for... Not too much I guess I just get on with it, no time to sit around waiting for inspiration sometimes you just have to get up and keep going. I think I learnt that from skateboarding - trying tricks like 100 times and then just when you want to stop is when you land it.
The weirdest thing about being a creative human is... I guess it would be the irregular times painting and maybe not having an off switch. It’s like a 24/7 thing - ideas can strike at any moment and because some of my artwork is semi-autobiographical it feels at times that it’s just flowing through and if you're tuned in, you’re picking up on stuff all the time, there’s an urgency to get that stuff down onto the canvas.
The most unusual object in my house is... I’m not sure about weird, but I’ve got a lot in my studio, stuff I have picked up on my adventures, some carvings, shells, old catalogues etc. Even a small piece of reindeer horn from indigenous people in Lapland. They make knives and things like that out of reindeer horn. I had travelled to London and France the year before and then the following year went up to northern Sweden and across to Norway. It was incredible -28° and everything was like pure white because of the snow.
I celebrate my achievements by... going to a nice restaurant or something like that.
Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is... Air travel is pretty cool. But if we are talking artworks, I really like the artwork Henri Matisse did for the La Chapelle du Rosaire.
Marty Baptist's solo show SOMETHING SOON NOW continues at Yeah, Nice. Gallery until 1 September 2023.