As with the landscape, the works present themselves as simultaneously tight and loose, primal and poetic. Each piece seems to reconsider the systems of nature from which they are derived. Walker’s line work, its zigs and zags, elucidate the artist’s attempt to grasp what can’t be held—the lapping water, disintegrating horizon, evaporating marks in the muddy shoreline. The works contain the repetitive restlessness of Kusama’s infinity works and the clarity of Matisse cut outs.
The drawings show an intimate side of Walker’s process and initial impulses. They are fast, but not casual, real, but far from literal. A viewer unaware of Walker’s attachment to the Maine landscape may not realize that this scene sparks the works, yet for Walker these works hold the essential elements of this place. With his brush, Walker transforms the personal into the heroic.
John Walker (b. 1939) is British born American abstract painter whose work is inspired in part by observation of the landscape and sea. He has had numerous exhibitions both domestically and abroad. Walker studied at Birmingham College of Art, The British school in Rome, and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris. John Walker was a Gregory Fellow at Leeds University. He was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to the United States (1969–70) and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. He has been artist-in-residence at Oxford University (1977–78), and at Monash University, Melbourne (1980). In the 1980’s he was Dean of Victoria College of Art in Melbourne, Australia. He is professor Emeritus of Art and former head of the graduate program in painting at Boston University School of Visual Arts, where he taught from 1993 to 2015.
His work can be found in museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Gallery, Edinburgh; Tate Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.