Updated on 12 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).
5 October 2016. My tutor was right when suggesting to have a look at Caroline Walker’s work (*1982, Scotland). I instantly liked her use of perspective and light, which allows her paintings to radiate something very positive and calm, even in cases where the colour contrast is at a maximum, as e.g. in “Architecture of Leisure” (2016a). Many of her paintings are arranged for the viewer to observe the scene from a hidden point, from outside or inside a house or similar, often from behind a plant. This technique – which is also a good hint for my own approach to Part 4 of the course – allows both the opening up of a scene to which the observer does not belong at the moment of recording and the description of the viewer’s imaginary surroundings. I also feel close to Walker’s style of sketching with paint e.g. in “Preparations V” (Walker, 2015a).
Having been asked by my tutor to try and find out about what makes an artist choose his/her subjects and why they work as they do, I went to see whether I could excavate some information before following the link she suggested. Apparently Caroline Walker will be featured in the third of Phaidon Press’s Vitamin P book series, due to be released in late October this year (Walker, 2016b). Too late for this post and since it seems to have become very popular for artists to have minimal websites, I had to go and look elsewhere. When reading a short biography on Artsy (n.d.), I was instantly reminded of a type of approach, which I already mentioned in several previous posts and to me seems to have somewhat dominated figurative painting for decades: lonely, introspective figures – women only in Walker’s case – detached from the observer, in equally desolate surroundings. The sheer number of paintings sharing this style makes me wonder why so many artists feel strongly enough about it to make them decide the phenomenon to be worth reporting, again. Is this what our time does to our social relationships or is the subject of isolation attractive enough as it is? I suspect that it may be a mix of both and of course the eerie detachment gives the viewer ample opportunity to speculate and place their own experiences into the void. In her artist’s statement published on the Saatchi Gallery website Caroline Walker explains herself about the why: “[…] the female subject in painting […] is reconsidered through a female gaze […]; the apparent depiction of a shared moment becomes a projection space or template for investigating both broader and personal notions of femininity.” (Walker, n.d.).
So I did not get it too wrong :o). And here is the link my tutor provided to an interview with Walker explaining her intentions, where she mentions the difficulties she had with the male-dominated Scottish and European painting tradition and her early love of seemingly harmless subjects with a somewhat evil twist (Walker, 2015b).
Artsy (n.d.) Caroline Walker [online]. Artsy, New York. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artist/caroline-walker [Accessed 5 October 2016]
Walker, C. (2015a) Preparations V [ink on paper] [online]. Caroline Walker, London. Available at: http://www.carolinewalker.org/ink04.html [Accessed 5 October 2016]
Walker, C. (2015b) REALITY Artist Blog – Caroline Walker: Life, education and influences [blog] [online]. Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts, Norwich. Available at: http://scva.ac.uk/news/caroline-walker [Accessed 5 October 2016]
Walker, C. (2016a) News [online]. Caroline Walker, London. Available at: http://www.carolinewalker.org/news.html [Accessed 5 October 2016]
Walker, C. (2016b) The Architecture of Leisure [oil on linen] [online]. Caroline Walker, London. Available at: http://www.carolinewalker.org/architectureofleisure.html [Accessed 5 October 2016]
Walker, C. (n.d.) Artist’s Statement [online]. Saatchi Gallery, London. Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/caroline_walker_articles.htm [Accessed 5 October 2016]