I remember when there was a vogue for the work of John Walker. I didn’t like it because at that time he was using the same form over and over, which he called “Alba,” and said was derived from Goya. I thought that was a real failure of invention, and maybe too much a Pop/Conceptual device, like Michael Snow’s Walking Woman, for example. I had the same problem with the “bean” of Claude Viallat, which I saw quite early on at the Ace Gallery in Vancouver, but that’s a topic for a later post.
It’s the bent shape at the left in this work. I’m not so critical today, in fact I understand how a shape can be so interesting that one wants to work with it for some time. After all, it’s each particular shape that matters. But what I’ve recently learned about Walker is even better—the pleasure he takes in painting is aural. What matters to him is the sound of the brush on the canvas. I’ve never heard of that before—it’s really interesting and original. Of course the loudest sound, in the studio and out, is the noise inside one’s own head, and Walker’s method turns out to be a great perspective on that, one that benefits the work. My newest collage is in oil paint—was trying the Walker way today, and would extend the method to other sounds, like the clink of a ferrule on a jar of turpentine.