Vanishing Point | Text by David Alston

November 11, 2018 § Leave a comment

 

 

Vanishing Point is a new exhibition by artist Barbara Walker for the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. (20thOct. – 6thJan. 2019).  For the artist, it marks an embarking on a reviewed set of working methods and in a symbiotic way, a parallel address to subject matter. Like powerful previous bodies of work, as in the Birmingham MAC’s Shock and Awein 2016, Walker signals her intent in the title. Vanishing Point riffs on both the perspectival device in the canon of Western post renaissance art and an occlusion of black presence in that same canon.

Her project was submitted alongside her selected work for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2017 as a submission for the Evelyn Williams Drawing Award, attached for the first time in 2017 to the Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize). In a biennial cycle the Evelyn Williams Trust supports a recipient and funds, via the £10,000 award, a period of research and studio work, building to a guaranteed exhibition the following year. Barbara Walker was the choice of the Jerwood Drawing Prize selection panel:Dr  David Dibosa, writer, researcher and Reader in Museology at the University of the Arts London, Helen Legg, Director of Spike Island and Michael Simpson, artist, the three of them working with Evelyn Williams Trust member Nicholas Usherwood.

Moving quickly, the artist and the Curators at the Jerwood Gallery were successful in a proposition to the National Gallery to borrow two works (a Tiepolo and a Luca Giordano) from the National’s collection which have exerted, amongst an array of others, Barbara Walker’s gaze and interrogation for her suite of drawings. These loans to her Jerwood Gallery exhibition have been made possible in the first year of the operation of the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, supporting more innovative exhibition making and new possibilities of reach for National collections.

In some ways what Barbara Walker has painstakingly and pointedly achieved in the suite of 11 works based on works in the National Gallery, argues strongly for a showing back in the Trafalgar Square Gallery. Walker interacts with these works because of her fascination with execution and the messaging of Old Master art, rather in the way and on scale, her work looked so fitting in situ drawn on the walls in the stairwell of the Venetian Palazzo Pisani a Santa Marina in the Diaspora exhibition in the 2017 Venice Biennale, with Walker as temporary inheritor and interrogator in a city of wall paintings and frescoed decoration.

Here she works on a size comparable to large sheets of surviving old master drawings, easel size versions that in most cases for the originals, would have existed as drawings on comparable scale, prior to transfer to a surface to take the painting. There are analogies too with the types of drawings that were made by engravers to reproduce a painting.  As artists in those eras thought through compositional study, Walker first works meticulously to expose the workings of the overall composition and the black figuration within it. Working with the image in reverse on the computer, and removing, or leaving almost abstracted, the overall figures, the artist draws out, as it were, the powerful secondary presence of the black figuration in these works. This provides the reliefs to the image which when converted to a plate and printed as a blank, produces the embossed images which she then works on to re-insert the black figuration in graphite drawing and occasional use of coloured pencil. Other parts of the image such as skies maybe reconstructed through drawing.

 

The resultant works are both exquisite and powerful. Concept and effect prompts so many dialogues about these reclaimed images, through the referencing of seen and unseen aspects of the original images. This then encompasses some of the hierarchies of traditional art history and the historical consideration of the position of drawing vis à vis painting. Walker restores a dialogue around what subtends these compositions and what formally is blanked in the image and what by her is given an asserted presence. This in turn powerfully evokes presences and absences, what is implied and what now in terms of social justice needs to be unequivocal and focal in the image -black presence: history redressed, history re-addressed.

David Alston

September 201867_Vanishing Point 7 (Titian) graphite and coloured pencil on embossed Somerset Satin paper using a Photolymer Gravure plate 2018Detail. Vanishing Point 2 (Van Herp) graphite on embossed paper, 2018IMG_0782web 9web 10Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018

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Photography by Chris Keenan

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Vanishing Point

October 7, 2018 § Leave a comment

Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018

Detail, Vanishing Point 6 (Breenbergh) graphite on embossed paper, 2018

Photo: Chris Keenan

 

Jerwood Gallery

Vanishing Point opens 20th October and confronts the issues of race and representation in art from the Old Masters through the present day.

Walker is interested in issues of class and power, gender, race, representation and the politics of how we look at others. She makes portraits in a range of media and formats – from small embossed works on paper to paintings on canvas and large-scale charcoal wall drawings – in order to explore social and political issues.

For Barbara Walker: Vanishing Point the artist has selected two paintings from the collection of the National Gallery, London that are displayed alongside her own drawings in order to highlight cultural differences in historic and contemporary societies. The Banquet of Cleopatra by Tiepolo and A Homage to Velázquez (about 1692-1700, by Giordano both feature Black figures. The loans are made possible through the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, an initiative created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund.

Walker’s work depicts subjects who are often cast as minorities, inviting the viewer to look beyond the anonymising act of categorising or classifying citizens. Her pictures make visible the lives of others, and address the allusions associated with the labels conferred upon people by society. By exhibiting the National Gallery loans with her own drawings of Black Subjects, Walker is showing these historic works in a fresh context, drawing attention to the figures that are usually overlooked.

The exhibition is the outcome of the Evelyn Williams Drawing Bursary awarded to Walker in association with Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 and has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, an initiative created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund. It is specifically designed to directly fund and empower regional and smaller local authority museums to borrow major works or collections of art from the UK’s national museums and galleries. The fund enables wider access to works from the national collections for audiences across the UK, strengthening the skills of museum professionals and distributing resources.

 

 

 

A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings

June 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

Modern Art Oxford and Drawing Room, London, jointly present A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, a group exhibition that celebrates the sustained power of drawing in the digital age. The featured artists across the two-venue group exhibition are ruby onyinyechi amanze, Nidhal Chamekh, Milano Chow, Kate Davis, Karl Haendel, David Haines, Ian Kiaer, Ciprian Muresan, David Musgrave, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Kathy Prendergast, Massinissa Selmani, Lucy Skaer and Barbara Walker.

Exhibition dates at Drawing Room: 13 June – 5 August 2018

Join us for our Preview Party on Friday 15 June to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Find out more.

Untitled (2018) graphite on embossed paper 63 x 46 cm

Photo: Chris  keenan

 

REFORMATION

April 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

I Was There!…( 2018) pen and ink, gold leaf, digital image, vellum, 48 x 38.5 cm

Photo: Chris Keenan

jpegGuest Projects presents Reformation

Kashif Nadim Chaudry    Michael Forbes    Barbara Walker

03 May – 21 May 2018   Opening times 12noon – 6.30pm

Private View 03 May 2018, 6 – 9pm

Reformation presents the work of three artists who unearth hidden histories. Their work proposes alternative narratives that expose and undermine cultural assumptions. In an exhibition that includes sculpture, installation, and drawing, Reformation explores racial, sexual and personal identities within historic economic and cultural currents that still shape our world today.

All three artists share an interest in remodelling and remaking, using techniques that range from pencil drawing directly onto gallery walls, to the use of textiles and found objects that range from skulls to fake designer handbags. The work of Michael Forbes and Barbara Walker was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale as part of the Diaspora Pavilion, an initiative of the International Curators Forum. Khasif Nadim Chaudry has recently completed a major new commission, The Three Graces, for Turner Contemporary, where he spent a year in residence.

Khasif Nadim Chaudry was trained at Goldsmiths. He uses elaborate, textiles based techniques to create monumental installations from fabric and found objects. His work is concerned with power, the sacred and the ceremonial; he situates his sexuality as a gay man within different religious and political contexts. For Reformation he brings together medieval heraldry and Islamic decoration, creating a louche cast of characters in fetishistic finery to question ritual, custom and belief.

Michael Forbes presents a series of sculptural tableau informed by the entwined political and social histories of Africa, the Caribbean, America, and Europe. Bleeding at the edges and erupting from their formal plinths, tribal masks jostle with historical porcelain figurines and disembowelled electronics. Forbes is concerned with migration – of objects, and of the people who have become refugees. His work alludes to the conspicuous consumption of the new economic empires, as well as the arbitrary cultural acquisitiveness that created historic museum collections. Forbes’ work invites a dialogue on both the post-colonial black presence in Europe and new developing Diasporas.

The visceral drawings of Barbara Walker bring to life the forgotten histories of black servicemen and women in the British Armed Forces. Monumental drawings, often large scale and rendered directly onto gallery walls, powerfully document the erasure and cultural negation of black combatants. In other works these figures are embossed on paper, their ghostly pale shadows a vivid contrast with their meticulously illustrated cohorts, resulting in an optical tussle between absence and presence. Graphite and blind embossing techniques draw attention to the fluidity of history, the way it is made, erased and redrawn, and how its figures are repositioned over time. Unearthing these invisible but true stories, of lives given and indelibly altered in the name of Empire, is a particularly poignant endeavour during the last centenary year of the Great War. Walker’s work is an affecting reminder of the social, political, cultural and individual histories that have been expunged from our collective remembrance.

“The history of the art movement in the UK has always been about artist interventions in the form of group shows framed around the currency of artistic chronicles and for me: Reformation will be a historical marker and a must-see event. It is one of many chapters of a story of how Michael Forbes and Barbara Walker project has emerged from a two-year strategic intervention programme that explored the artistic, challenges, changes, disruptions, and interventions that occur across the global art worlds and documents these processes to allow established, future and emerging artists from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences to discover, learn and develop their professional practice.” David A Bailey MBE

Guest Projects is an initiative conceived by artist  Yinka Shonibare MBE which offers the opportunity to artistic practitioners of any artistic discipline to have access to a free project space for one month. Guest Projects provides an alternative universe and playground for artists. It is a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions. www.guestprojects.com

www.michaelforbes.org.uk

www.kashifnadimchaudry.com

www.barbarawalker.co.uk

Guest Projects address: Sunbury House, 1 Andrews Road, London E8 4QL

Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green: Nearest Overground: Hoxton. Buses: D6, 26, N26, 48, 55, N55, 106, 388, 236, 254, N253 and 394

Guest Projects is fully wheelchair accessible

Funded by ArtsCouncil England

The Drawing Room| Artist Bursary 2017

January 2, 2018 § 1 Comment

7 August – 13 September 2017

https://drawingroom.org.uk/projects/barbara-walker-bursary-award-2017

Photographs courtesy, The Drawing Room,
Angela Davis and Ellie Tonna

 

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Transcended

June 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

 

Transcended: a new series of site-specific, large-scale ephemeral wall drawings depicting male and female soldiers from the Commonwealth in World War I. Connected to an ongoing series Shock & Awe, these works address the ritualistic aspects of war, rites of passage, the idea of rebirth and the social consequences of having fought for your country. The opportunity to be applauded, welcomed back, to be celebrated is negated in the case of black soldiers.

With the outbreak of the First World War, thousands of West Indians volunteered to join the British army on the basis that if they showed their loyalty to the king they would be treated as equals. However, in the beginning only white soldiers were allowed to fight, so the West Indians were relegated to carrying out arduous physical tasks, such as loading ammunition, laying electrical wires, digging trenches, and cleaning latrines for their white colleagues. Transcended provides the opportunity to re-dress the balance and celebrate the contribution of black soldiers to the two World Wars. The striking bold figurative drawings on the walls of the staircase celebrate the contribution of black soldiers to the World Wars, in particular that of soldiers from the British West Indian Regiment who died and were buried in graves in Taranto, Italy, following a mutiny that lasted four days in December 1918.

 

photo by Izzy Castro(2017) Transcended photo by Izzy CastroTranscended 2017 image by Izzy CastroTranscended 2017

 

Currently exhibited at the Diaspora Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale.

Diaspora Pavilion

Palazzo Pisani S Marina,

Venice.

13 May – 26 November 2017

Exhibiting artists:
Larry Achiampong | Barby Asante | Sokari Douglas Camp | Libita Clayton | Kimathi Donkor | Michael Forbes | Ellen Gallagher | Nicola Green | Joy Gregory | Isaac Julien | Dave Lewis | Hew Locke | susan pui san lok | Paul Maheke | Khadija Saye | Yinka Shonibare MBE | Erika Tan | Barbara Walker | Abbas Zahedi.

Diaspora Pavilion is curated by David A Bailey and Jessica Taylor and presented by ICF (International Curators Forum) and University of the Arts London. Supported by Arts Council England’s International Showcasing Fund.

Photo by  Izzy Castro

 

Diaspora Pavilion

April 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

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DIASPORA PAVILION

Wednesday 10th May, 2017  6-9pm
Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina, 30100 Venice, Italy
Exhibiting Artists: Larry Achiampong, Barby Asante, Sokari Douglas Camp, Libita Clayton, Kimathi Donkor, Michael Forbes, Ellen Gallagher, Nicola Green, Joy Gregory, Isaac Julien, Dave Lewis, Hew Locke, susan pui san lok, Paul Maheke, Khadija Saye, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Erika Tan, Barbara Walker, Abbas Zahedi
Curated by David A. Bailey and Jessica Taylor
Diaspora Pavilion is an exhibition showcasing nineteen UK based artists whose practice expand, complicate and destabilise our understanding of diaspora, while highlighting the continued relevance that diaspora as a lived reality holds today.