Wellington artist Jake Walker calls his work 'Folk Modernism'; in response to the slick sophistication of much contemporary painting, his works are determinedly handmade. Walker's recent paintings have included ceramic objects, found landscape paintings and studio drop sheets. Assembled into floor or wall-based compositions, these become paintings in three dimensions. The works sit somewhere between architectural relief, sculptural objects and traditional painting practice and it can be hard to say whether they are made for table-top orientation or belong on the wall.
“The ceramic frames are at some level a manifestation of my frustrations with paint; the process of making something from clay has a logic that is in many ways foreordained. Oil paint is such a wily and unknowable substance in many respects, especially when you start to manipulate it and break rules. It’s about working out which are the rules you want to break, what will reveal something new in the finished work.” Jake Walker.
Walker grew up in the postmodernist houses of his father, Wellington architect Roger Walker, and has also been strongly influenced by the buildings of Ian Athfield. These childhood inspirations are clear in his work, yet there is also something more radical, almost feral, in the way that his paintings and ceramics take on the forms and materials of their architectural precursors. And while the architectural aesthetic of his Wellington childhood is clear, the works also draw nostalgically on an earlier historical moment, hailing a connection to the assemblages, ‘combines’ and ‘counter-reliefs’ and formal concerns of early modernism.
Based in Melbourne for the past five years, and Sydney prior to that, Walker's work has frequently referred to New Zealand’s landscape and architecture traditions. With his recent return to New Zealand to set up a home and studio in Featherston, these associations are more recognisable, yet the works retain a material outlandishness which is at the centre of their appeal.
Jake Walker was born in Wadestown 1971, and attended Otago School of Fine Arts in 1991. He has had recent solo projects at Utopian Slumps and Gertrude Street (Melbourne, 2012), and was part of the group exhibition Reason and Rhyme, a joint project between St Paul St Gallery and Gertrude St (Auckland and Melbourne, 2012). His work is currently included in Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Upcoming exhibitions include Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 (with Utopian Slumps) and a solo exhibition at Welcome Screen, London.