Ikon presents a major exhibition of new paintings by Birmingham-born artist John Walker (b. 1939), recently described as “one of the standout abstract painters of the last 50 years” (Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe, 2014).
Having studied in Birmingham at the Moseley School of Art, and later the Birmingham College of Art, Walker was the first artist to show at Ikon Gallery when it moved in 1972 to new premises in the Birmingham Shopping Centre above New Street Station. Here he presented large chalk drawings on blackboards made in situ. In the same year he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.
This exhibition reveals an artist at the height of his powers, featuring “anti-scenic” paintings inspired by the coastal landscapes of Maine where Walker now lives. The freedom with which he is working, and the edgy beauty he achieves as a result, give rise to a refreshing artistic experience of colour and graphic rhythms.
Walker’s preoccupation with the natural world, and his place in it, is engaging in its essentialism – capturing light, space and tidal movement. He is turning paint into land, sea and sky on a coastline that beats to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean – a far cry from the industrial city where he was born and brought up. He left Birmingham more than fifty years ago to explore new landscapes, literally and artistically, and it is a privilege to have him back with us for a long-awaited homecoming.
The exhibition is supported by the John Feeney Charitable Trust, The Grimmitt Trust and the Owen Family Trust.
Ikon’s exhibition coincides with John Walker: Works from the University of Birmingham Campus Art Collection 1966-1996 (until 13 March 2020).