Douglas Walker: Other Worlds
September 11 – October 23, 2014
Main Gallery |Centre for the Arts | W600

September 11 – October 23, 2014
Reception: September 11, 4 – 6 pm
Main Gallery
Curated by Peter Dykhuis and Corinna Ghaznavi

Organized by Dalhousie Art Gallery in partnership with The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and the Kelowna Art Gallery

Douglas Walker will speak in Art Now, September 12.

Douglas Walker’s stunningly gorgeous, mostly monochromatic blue paintings on paper reference both historical fine art illustration and the graphic production strategies found in ‘outsider art’ and tattoo culture.

I am delighted to bring this exhibition of Douglas Walker’s work to the University of Lethbridge. The exhibition has toured extensively across Canada and we are the closing venue for the project. All of my colleagues at the galleries that have shown this work light up when they talk about Walker and his stunningly gorgeous installation. The works are technically paintings –they involve paint applied to paper – but they push the boundaries of this definition with a result that transforms the gallery. Using a monochromatic approach (just a range of vibrant to soft blues and whites), Walker creates, as the title of the exhibitions states, other worlds in the gallery. The installation is labour intensive and involves the artist and several assistants stapling each sheet of paper in custom configurations for the specific location (and then the dedicated gallery staff carefully removing staples to take the exhibition down). The work involved to create this installation is well worthwhile and the exhibition has to be seen and experienced in-person as the viewer feels immersed in the space, the colour, and the imagery.

– Josephine Mills, Director/Curator

Toronto artist Douglas Walker’s mostly monochromatic blue paintings on paper from the past decade are executed in a manner that pays homage both to historical fine art illustration and the graphic production strategies found in ‘outsider art’ and tattoo culture. For the past few years Walker’s imagery has revolved around three motifs: fantastical, other-worldly landscapes with mutant, modernist architectural structures; portraits of mid-20th Century women in which, for example, garments and hair morph into plant-like image-fields; and sinewy floral tendrils that evoke Victorian-era graphic flourishes. All of the works are created using a resist technique of Walker’s invention where the image emerges from multiple, simultaneous applications of water and oil based materials that often yield unexpected textural results. The surfaces simulate crackled 18th Century Delft-blue ceramic glazing—which itself quotes the Chinese porcelain that was highly valued by the colonial Dutch traders. These paintings are Walker’s visitations to other places—perhaps real, perhaps imagined—where exotic graphic figures, human and otherwise, float in science fiction- like fields and atmospheres.

Walker has created new architecturally-scaled paintings for Other Worlds that synthesize pictorial components of his previous imagery into single works, including a full-scale representation of a sperm whale, which is flanked by a moon-like celestial body and four new pieces made specifically for the Dalhousie Art Gallery: a modernist office building in an ethereal landscape; a suspension bridge joining two small islands; a large, cresting wave; and a human body laid out horizontally in a tomb-like structure. The crackled patterns in the interior ‘spaces’ of many of these depictions call to mind cellular structures and micro-organic matter; rendered together they form transparent, x-ray-like atmospheres. By playing with these complex figure-ground relationships, Walker interweaves multiple layers and points of view—from the telescopic to microscopic—within his work.

– Dalhousie Art Gallery

The exhibition is organized by the Dalhousie Art Gallery and curated by Peter Dykhuis and Corinna Ghaznavi.