Artist Benjamin Sean Lees relocated to Hastings from London in January of this year, having completed his studies in Fine Art at The London Metropolitan University School of Art, Architecture and Design some years earlier. Lees went on to work in the creative sector under various guises, before a sellout show of his work earned him enough to leave the hectic pace of London behind for the quirky, bohemian shores of the South Coast.

Intrigued by Hastings’ reputation as a burgeoning hotbed of independent creative talent, Lees acquired a new abode and accompanying workshop-come-gallery in St Leonards. Keen to promote his longstanding fascination with the natural world and to further explore his place within this, BakiiBak (pronounced ‘Back two Back’) has become a literal conduit for Lees, a multimedia gallery and arts space which he currently oversees alongside his day job as a property developer.

Ancient Rock Art Formations by Benjamin Sean Lees

Inspired by the delicate intricacies and innate nuances of nature from an early age, Lees works in resin and paint to create a series of genre-defying visuals, all of which are underpinned by vivid notions of tribal aesthetics, coupled with a beguiling sense of immortality. Working on a micro scale, Lees’ paintings explore the often overlooked beauty of the global ecosystem – from the minute fragility of a plant cell to the alienesque qualities of bacteria and the cruel inevitability of decay. 

Elaborating on his own personal practice as an artist and new role as a gallery owner, Lees’ ethos for BakiiBak is refreshingly direct:  

“I want the gallery to be somewhere where artists can experiment whilst also engaging with the viewer within a rich sensory framework. It’s really important to me that the art on show is accessible to all, with opportunities for everyone within the wider community to get involved. It’s going to be a wholly inclusive venture, something which is multifaceted and operates on a not-for-profit basis.”

Forthcoming highlights of the gallery programme will include: a variety of workshops, sculptural installation, life drawing sessions and even a siphon coffee club, where the aforementioned beverage is produced via a bespoke vacuum-style contraption, reminiscent of a mad professor’s laboratory set – surely a must for even the most seasoned of coffee aficionados!

Opening Exhibition

The aptly titled Stutter (opening on the 29th August, until the 1st of September 2020) will be the first exhibition at BakiiBak, providing a much-needed platform for six MA painting graduates from The Royal College of Art, London. The show will be a direct response to the disruption caused by the ongoing pandemic and the devastating effect this has subsequently had on the education sector and, perhaps most notably, the Arts.

With the students’ highly anticipated graduation show cancelled in favour of a virtual equivalent, Lees has given the upcoming artists the chance to showcase their work within a collaborative physical format, one which seeks to unpick and disseminate some of the destruction imposed by Covid-19 and the associated restrictions placed on previously normative interactions.

Plant Cell III by Benjamin Sean Lees

The show will feature a bold selection of truly striking, superlative works, all of which have been nurtured and produced within the midst of one of the most anomalous crises of recent times.

Stutter looks set to be a suitably reflective and much needed introductory show for BakiiBak, whilst additionally supporting emerging artists on the very precipice of a new reality, post lockdown, within the creative sector.

Looking Forward

Future exhibitions still to be confirmed include a collaborative project with the sound/music collective, Lophelia, who will be using the vital themes of climate and environment as a focal point for aural transmission, whilst also inviting visual artists to add their own interpretation of the latter to the resulting gallery show.

The gleefully idiosyncratic artist Andrew Rickett will be exhibiting at BakiiBak at a date to be confirmed, during autumn 2020. Rickett’s show Lyfe will see him use yeast and organic matter to build new worlds and mythological deities within a scientific theoretical format.

With so much planned for the weeks and months ahead, as we leave the hazy days of summer for the glacial climes of winter and the unfortunate possibility of a second wave of the pandemic, Lees is keen to emphasise BakiiBak’s commitment to being a Covid-19-secure public space, with hand sanitiser and various relevant protective measures already being put in place.

All visitors are kindly advised to wear facemasks when inside the gallery and whilst booking a ticket for any forthcoming show or event isn’t mandatory, it is encouraged, in order to help the venue adhere to social distancing guidelines as required.

When asked about his thoughts on BakiiBak going forwards, Lees is characteristically eloquent and brimming with an infectious sense of enthusiasm:

“Ultimately I hope to bring something different to the local area – I want to link the sciences through immersive art experience, one which can be embraced in all its many forms… please come and visit us soon!”

Please refer to the BakiiBak website for further information on Benjamin Sean Lees’ work and for details of all forthcoming exhibitions and events

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