Artist biography

English painter and printmaker. He studied at Birmingham College of Art from 1955 to 1960. Typical of his large-scale paintings of that period is Study (acrylic and canvas collage on canvas, 2.2×3.0 m, 1965; London, Tate), in which folded and dramatically lit shapes are presented against a sprayed fencelike background. He continued looking to the American models of Abstract Expressionism and Post-painterly Abstraction.

He reinterpreted Cubist collage on a massive scale, layering shapes of cut-out canvas painted to look like the rusting metal of the industrial vehicles alluded to in the title. Walker increasingly referred to earlier painted images. Red Strand Infanta II (oil on canvas, 1981; British Council) was one of a group of canvases that made direct allusion to Velázquez and that introduced into his work illusions of deep space; from this point on, he favoured oil painting rather than acrylic.

Following a residency in Australia from 1979 to 1980, Walker was appointed Dean of Melbourne's Victoria College of the Arts in 1982.The changes in his painting are likewise reflected in his production as a printmaker, from the larger-scale lithographs such as the Blackboard Print series (1.0×0.7 m, 1973; British Council) to his later preference for the gestural surfaces and physicality of etching, for example Oceania II (0.4×0.4 m, 1984; see 1985 exh. cat., p. 43).

A. Lewis: ‘John Walker', Artscribe, 31 (1981), pp. 24–36
John Walker: Paintings from the Alba and Oceania Series, 1979–84 (exh. cat., London, Hayward Gal., 1985)
John Walker: Prints, 1976–84 (exh. cat. by M. Holloway, London, Tate, 1985)


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