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.