Alexandre Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by John Walker (b. 1939) opening Thursday, October 2nd, at 5:30 pm. This marks the gallery’s first exhibition of Walker’s work. Walker’s last one-person show in New York was at Knoedler Gallery (2011).
Walker’s paintings have always been rigorously abstract, although for him abstraction has its origins in what he sees, and especially what he sees in the natural world. In the recent work, Walker continues his more than decade-long exploration of subjects based on views from his Seal Point studio on the water in mid-coast Maine. The paintings do not naturalistically depict the landscape – sea, sky, rocks, trees, tidal inlets, mud flats – but rather become abstract meditations on the ineffable qualities of a place as Walker has experienced it over the changing seasons, months and years. His subjects could more accurately be described as these changing conditions—light, time and one’s own fragile existence in the world.
Walker paints his landscapes from varying points of view and angles, sometimes from memory, and often repeating similar images or patterns in the same painting to convey a slippage of time or location, from morning to afternoon to evening. Pure color, solid shapes and patterning emerge as more prevalent in these new paintings. In several of the most abstract works luminous variations of cobalt blue or seaweed green and grayed white bands zigzag up and down and across the canvas in schematic wave and wake patterns. In others, gestural swashes of raw rough paint evoke evergreens on rock or flotsam on the surface of the water. Sometimes actual mud is mixed with oil paint resulting in an alchemy and transformation of natural materials into light, space or spirit in the paintings.
With titles such as Brake, Reach, Touch, and Wake, the exhibition will include seven large-scaled paintings (84 x 66 and 72 x 60 inches) and a selection of small and medium sized ones all vertical in format. Also included will be a series of 24 “bingo card” paintings—small- scaled (7 x 5 inches), compact and often intensely worked oil paintings that often become the basis for the larger compositions.
Walker lives and maintains studios in Boston and South Bristol, Maine. Since 1993 he has taught at Boston University where he was Director of the Graduate Painting Program. His work has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions in the States and inter- nationally and is in the permanent collections of major museums including The Metropolitan, MoMA, Phillips Collection, which has presented one-person exhibitions of his work in 1982 and 2002, and the Tate in London.