Gabrielle Bakker

The Letter Geisha Study, 2009 - Ink, Pencil, Gouache on Paper - 7"x6.5" (Detail)


Gabrielle Bakker has created a world in which Minotaurs mingle with geishas and various mythical characters. Beautifully executed, her paintings combine diverse formal and historical means in achieving a rich and compelling imagery. Masterfully painted, Bakker's work has a clarity and light rarely seen in our time.

William Bailey 2010


By Matthew Kangas

This introductory survey of Gabrielle Bakker's art covering over a decade of paintings, studies, drawings, collages and sketches comes at a good time; it reflects the changes occurring in contemporary art with regard to matters like the nature of representation; the validity of traditional materials such as oil paint; and the role of individual vision in shaping responses to these and other issues.

Born of a Dutch father and American mother, Bakker studied at Yale University with William Bailey. Bakker's grasp of art history and the technical mastery of great European painters inform her every move yet never occlude her particular intellectual approach. The human figure is paramount, but also becomes a departure point for the exploration of cultural interfaces and mythic tropes that are subtly twisted and malleable in Bakker's hands. The results are an art of gripping power that retains a detachment of observation and touch. Emotions are conveyed through facial expressions, eyes especially, that direct the viewer into or away from the scene.

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Interview with Dave Beck on KUOW

Painter Gabrielle Bakker: Classicism, Cubism And The Pursuit Of Excellence

Dave Beck, KUOW Presents

06/11/2011 ‐ Gabrielle Bakker is a Seattle artist whose work carries on the tradition of the old master painters. She admires the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and the Renaissance. She paints with painstaking attention to detail, maintaining the high standards of the classical masters. Her quest for excellence makes her fiercely self–critical.

In her early career, Gabrielle's classically inspired paintings sold for thousands of dollars and found their way into the art collections of celebrities like actor Harrison Ford. Her excellent reputation as a painter was based on her classical work. But when Gabrielle proposed experimenting with new ideas and styles her art dealer told her that was a bad idea.

With the encouragement of friends and fellow artists, Gabrielle decided to take the risk and give herself permission to explore new worlds of creativity. She still fiercely holds on to her high standards of excellence and her dedication to principles of classical painting. But now her classically–based style has expanded to include images and ideas from Japanese mythology, geisha culture, cubist art and the mythical world of the Minotaur. Her work has a stylistic richness and sly sense of humor that wasn't there before. Some of her paintings now sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and she's found a new confidence in her work and artistic vision that helps her through the inevitable crises of confidence that we all encounter in the pursuit of excellence. Listen to interview.