Gallery 9 is pleased to present Painting Questions, Jake Walker’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
In two new series of work, Jake Walker synthesizes formal and cultural aspects of painting – recycling, reframing, and obliterating imagery to challenge the elastic notion of abstraction. The architecture of Ian Athfield is an ongoing source of imagery in Walker’s work, this is manifest in the white ceramic frames that make up the first clear series in the exhibition. Speckled and tubular, they are reminiscent of chimneys and archaic plumbing, framing coarsely woven canvases on which primer has been pushed through from the rear. Both the frame and the suggested image on the back of the canvas set the tone of the show being an expanded exploration of modernist painting, scrutinising the dimension of the painting itself, with what is framed and how we frame it being a central theme.
The second series offers a set of thick, painterly obliterations, some being expanded into wall-based sculpture by Walker’s black ceramic frames, and others being contained by strict dark wooden frames. Worked up over a long period of time, only hints of imagery and colour emerge from beneath greasy black and grey oil paint. Small smears and gaps are left where strokes of paint have been pulled over existing strokes in other directions. These slippages give the work depth up close. When viewed from afar, the top layer of strokes are most prominent, each pulled in it’s own direction, they are democratic, and no mark is privileged over any other. Speaking of labour and days repeating themselves, as in a metronome, each brushstroke asserts the pleasure in the logic and clarity of a day’s work.
Benchtop painting anchors 'Painting Questions'. This piece of canvas was attached to the artist’s desk and used as a palette over the course of his Gertrude St Residency. Part of an ongoing series, Walker’s palette paintings develop organically without intention, circumventing the problem of self and amounting to a more fluid and subconscious abstraction. The Oulipian restriction of them being compiled of the interstitial matter from the other two series in the show speaks to a personal and ideological history of improvisation and recycling. Diaristic and confessional, the benchtop painting in Painting Questions is key to both bodies of work as it encompasses the process of every painting. Situated alongside the works that Walker has concertedly developed over long periods of time, Benchtop painting both informs and challenges the two series. At a construction site Walker would be neither the builder nor the architect; but the builder-architect, using fine tools with great efficiency to build without an agenda. He is rooted in, but not restricted by, the movements and ideologies that shaped his early childhood to become the fanatic that he is now.
~ George Egerton-Warburton, Melbourne, July 2013