John Yau reviews John Walker: Looking Out to Sea at Alexandre Gallery, New York, on view through December 22, 2015.
Yau writes that "[Walker] embraces the obdurate world of mud and dissipation – the changing seasons of Seal Point, with its bracing tides, cold sunlight and washed up trash and debris. From the jagged stripes to the vibrating patterns to the clashing forms to the gritty surfaces, everything in these paintings has been lived intensely. Such passion has nothing to do with the prevailing narratives of art, and its preference for bluster and irony, but it does have a lot to do with painting, and why I, for one, go to Walker’s paintings to get the news of what it means to be alive in an indifferent universe."
John Walker: Recent Paintings on view at Alexandre Gallery, New York, from October 2 - November 15, 2014.
Tomorrow (November 15) is the last day to see an exhibition of recent paintings by John Walker at Alexandre Gallery, New York. If you haven’t seen the show yet, you should. On view are the latest in Walker’s series of plein air sketches and abstract landscapes.
John Walker, Drift, 2014, 84 x 66 inches (courtesy of Alexandre Gallery)
An ostensibly abstract painter, Walker has been painting the same spot in Maine for years, revitalizing abstraction through intense, prolonged immersion in nature. He has dirtied abstraction up with mud and salt air, exposed it to the rain, snow, and frigid wind. And with incredible results - never have abstract shapes been infused with such particular light and material specifics. Walker’s forms exist at a particular time on a particular day.
John Goodrich reviews John Walker: Recent Paintings at Alexandre Gallery, New York, on view through November 15, 2014.
Goodrich writes: "Few painters have expanded the original impulses of Abstract Expressionism in more directions than John Walker... But his biggest departure from 'classic Ab-Ex' may be his reliance on the perceived world. Although moodily abstracted, his images from the last decades have been consistently inspired by observations of the real. His urgent strokes and brooding color, moreover, reveal a certain discipline of form; their forces build in ways that create discrete, tangible presences in his paintings ... A minority of the marks are recognizable as objects, but all read as presences in the almost mystically deep and bright spaces. Though painted on humblest of supports, the colors and forms capture the primal experience of land meeting sky, and the artist seems to experience it anew each time."
Micchelli writes that the show "features seven large pictures as well as numerous smaller ones, including more than a dozen compact oils made on discarded Bingo cards, which the artist found in the former grange hall that became his studio in Seal Point on the coast of Maine. Densely hung in the gallery’s living room-size main space, the large paintings, which are all seven feet tall and five and a half feet across, swarm you with their edgy, jagged energy... in “Raft,” ... the vertical stripes run from top to bottom, with two horizontal sets constrained within shield-like shapes on the left and right, calling to mind Walker’s fascination with Aboriginal and African art. In these two works, like all the paintings in the show, the color is acetic, the paint handling is pugnacious, and the surface is so gritty you can almost taste it."
Jennifer Samet interviews painter John Walker about his work and career.
Walker recounts a formative experience: "As a young man, I had gone to Amsterdam to look at Van Gogh, actually. I saw the Rembrandts, including the painting that is still the most important painting to me — 'The Jewish Bride.' It just touched me so. It is truly one of the great romantic paintings in the world. I came out from the Rembrandt painting, and then I went to the Stedelijk. I’d been trained at that point just in figurative art. For the four years previously, I’d been in a life room. And I saw this painting, a white square on a white square. I didn’t know what it was, but I got the same emotional take that I got from the Rembrandt. It blew me away, took me off balance. I turned away, came back. I had no way of dealing with it intellectually. I’d never been faced with avant-garde art. I didn’t do anything about it. But several years later, I read that Malevich, when asked what his ambition was for painting, said it was to imbue the square with feeling. Well, that’s what Rembrandt did. So the connection was immediate. Then I didn’t have this problem of why I liked Rembrandt and why I liked certain contemporary art, why I grew to like Jackson Pollock. That is what they were doing: they were imbuing the square with feeling. I’d never read that, never heard of that, but it seemed to be right on."
Nicholas Forrest reviews an exhibition of paintings by John Walker at Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, Australia, on view through December 16, 2012.
Forrest writes: "In [Walker's] latest series of large-scale paintings, a rogue element emerges that dominates the canvas yet awakens the landscape scene to which it is tied... totemic forms – provocatively shrouded in yellows, reds and blues – entice the viewer into the landscape, the next moment they command undivided attention... The artist himself recalls being inspired by the crosses commemorating a life lost through a car or motorcycle accident that often appear by the side of the road, where they are usually anchored to telegraph poles or trees. He also had a desire to see what colour would look like on his usual, more earthy palette... Appearing foreign to the environment in which they are entwined, the prominent geometric figures exhibit a ghostly presence suggestive of a more urban environment, from which they have perhaps been extricated to haunt the natural world which they now inhabit."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.