Baby by Patrick Kyle interrogates the passage of time and the role of authority in our lives
Through absurdist humour and illustrations, the book ponders existential subjects such as meaning and purpose.
- Daniel Milroy Maher
- 10 May 2023
Canadian artist Patrick Kyle has released a new book titled Baby with London-based independent publisher Breakdown Press. Resulting from a series of previously self-published zines of the same name, made between 2019-2021, the body of work is gathered here in full for the first time.
“Most of my projects begin in a stream of consciousness fashion,” says Patrick of the project’s humble beginnings. “‘Working without a predetermined end’ is often what I call it — a phrase I lifted from American artist Barbara Rossi.” These early explorations are purely visual, as Patrick draws in his sketchbook and makes sense of what he’s drawing along the way. During this process, he figures out who the characters are, what they might say and what their motivations are.
At a certain point, these formative sketches begin to take the shape of fully fleshed protagonists, ultimately leading to work that is, as Patrick describes, by turns “silly and serious”. The artist often balances the two, moving between projects that are fun and freeing, and projects that are more serious and considered. In the case of his latest book however, its more serious counterpart was flagging in development, as Patrick struggled to bring it together in a way that he felt satisfied with and, as such, Baby became the main focus.
“Baby is about the passage of time and how we perceive it,” explains Patrick, speaking on the book’s overarching premise. Across its 144 pages, we follow the titular protagonist through life’s defining moments — from birth to adulthood — except that these moments are frequently rejected by Baby and as a result fail to truly define him. His rebellious attitude in adolescence gives rise to a desire for maturity that is not yet fully warranted, and Baby’s journey through life becomes a series of conflicting interactions.
“My works often dwell on the passage of time, the role of authority in our lives, our relationship to space and traversing through it,” says Patrick. “Part of that comes from growing up as a contrarian in a homogeneous suburb of Toronto, other parts come from things I've seen in dreams (particularly the traversing through space).”
In Baby, Patrick’s capacity for energetic illustration is on full display, with the confines of the panels on each page frequently breached by the dynamic figures within them. His self-described “naive psychedelic style” is expressed through a monochromatic colour palette that serves to carry the captivating narrative without distracting from it.
As for the story itself, Patrick says if there is one clear takeaway from Baby’s experiences, it’s to remember to “be like the Baby, be your own authority figure — but don't forget, you're probably still the same old baby you always were.”
Baby is published by Breakdown Press and is available to purchase through its website.
GalleryPatrick Kyle: Baby (Copyright © Patrick Kyle, 2023)
Patrick Kyle: Baby (Copyright © Patrick Kyle, 2023)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.