In 2011, at just 34, Darren Baker became the youngest artist ever to be commissioned to paint an official portrait of the Queen. In 2012, he was selected as one of the official artists for the London Olympics. His hyper-realistic creations are widely accepted by art critics as being ‘beyond photographic quality’. This month he opens his largest exhibition to date, Hyperrealism, at M1 Fine Art, featuring previously unseen works that include dramatic scenes of Greenwich. The Guide Resident meets the man behind the masterpieces…

Words by Phillipa Rust

How did you discover your talent for hyper-realism?
I’ve always loved art and started drawing as soon as I could pick up a pencil, at 3 or 4 years old. People noticed my skill for representing things in high detail and when I went to art college I was really inspired by the Dutch Masters. Then my own technique and interpretation developed into this fine photographic quality of painting and drawing.

What was your painting session like with the Queen?
I was just really blown away. I got the call from Buckingham Palace to have the private sittings with Her Majesty and the opportunity to have the two private sittings was just fantastic. It was an amazing experience and I think it was well received by the palace.

For you, what was the highlight of the 2012 Olympic Games?
I was honoured to be sponsored by BT as one of the artists creating images from the Olympics. I worked on the opening ceremony, various London landscapes and some of the ambassadors like Dame Kelly Holmes and the Brownlee brothers [triathletes Alistair and Jonny], which culminated in an exhibition at Team GB House. It was all a bit of a blur, but an amazing blur.

Tell us about your exhibition opening in Greenwich this month…
It’s the largest showcase of my work ever and I can’t wait to open it. There will be over 60 original pieces with charcoals, pastels, oils and limited editions across all the different subjects I paint, from horses to London scenes. There are a few Greenwich pieces that I did specifically for the exhibition as well.

What inspired you to paint Greenwich?
Greenwich is quite personal to me. When I was courting my wife we spent a lot of time in Greenwich. We both love the area and through that I got involved with M1 Fine Art gallery. I’ve just got a lot of affection for the area. There are some great views and it has a lovely ambiance. I’m from the country in Yorkshire and it’s one of those parts of London that reminds me of home.

You’ve achieved enormous success for someone so young. Where do you go from here?
I hope to keep on developing and pushing myself to create better artwork. Hopefully that will take me to even greater heights and more worldwide attention. I’d also really like to set up my own art academy and help young talented artists make a name for themselves because it’s a difficult arena to break into.

Hyperrealism by Darren Baker runs from 1-31 May at M1 Fine Art, 20 Nelson Road, Greenwich SE10 9JB; 020 8269 0906;

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