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Indepth Arts News:

"John Walker: Works on Paper"
2005-07-02 until 2005-08-28
Portland Museum of Art
Portland, ME, USA

The bold, expressionist landscape imagery of Maine painter John Walker will be on view at the Portland Museum of Art from July 2 through August 28, 2005. John Walker: Works on Paper will feature approximately 20 works including large abstract prints and small oil sketches on paper. Walker's works on paper convey the same powerful gestural brush strokes, dense colors, and brooding sensibility of his monumental paintings. His large-scale watercolor and oil monotypes and etchings embellished with colored aquatint reach well beyond traditional graphic techniques to suggest the powerful forces of natural elements-waterfalls, rocks, and tidal estuaries.

Much of the imagery in Walker's recent work comes from his contact with the Maine coast, where he lives in the summer months. Head of the Graduate School for Painting at Boston University since 1993, Walker frequently encourages his students to paint outdoors alongside him near his home on a tree-lined, rocky cove of the Johns River in Walpole, Maine. The small oil sketches in this exhibition originate in his practice of painting directly outdoors. A sense of light-filled immediacy and visceral contact with the mudflats that surround him are most evident in these studies.

His evocative black-and-white aquatints further capture the luminous glow of moonlight on water. An avid angler, Walker has also been drawn to the Rocky Mountains, where he can both catch fish and make prints. Over the past decade, Walker has worked with Riverhouse Editions in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he has produced a series of monumental prints that evoke the steep canyon walls, waterfalls, and even fish that tie his work so closely to the natural world.

Born in Birmingham, England in 1939, Walker has traveled and exhibited widely throughout his distinguished career as an artist and teacher. He studied art at Birmingham College of Art from 1956 to 1960 and was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Drawing Prize. He represented England in the 1972 Venice Biennale and has taught at Oxford University, the Royal College of Art in London, Victoria College of Art in Melbourne, and at Yale University in New Haven. He is currently represented by Knoedler and Company in New York and Nielsen Gallery in Boston. He maintains a printing press in his studio in Maine and has done print editions with Tyler Graphics, as well as Riverhouse Editions. Walker's works are found in the collections of many notable museums including The British Museum in London; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His recent paintings have been featured in two exhibitions in Maine: at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (2001) and at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport and the University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor (2004). 

In the illustrated brochure that accompanies the exhibition, Ruth Fine, Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, discusses the complex printing processes that Walker employs to such great effect in these prints. Susan Danly, Curator of Graphics, Photography, and Contemporary Art at the Portland Museum of Art, is the curator of the exhibition. The exhibition will travel to the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where it can be seen from September 6 to October 30, 2005.

John Walker
North Branch

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