John Walker’s Botanical Creations Augment Museum’s ‘Why Draw?’ Show

Six of Maine-based artist John Walker’s large ink and acrylic works on paper have been added to a satellite gallery in the Museum of Art. The pieces relate to but are also distinct from the hundreds of drawings and watercolors, spanning 500 years, that are now on display in the Museum’s the “Why Draw?” exhibition.

Walker’s show, “A Painter Draws,” which opened May 18, depicts a bamboo plant he discovered in the botanical gardens of Sydney, Australia, in 2012. Walker described the plant as having “humanness,” “character,” and movement. “It felt very much alive, and that I was talking to it with my brush and it was talking back to me,” he said.

Walker worked on-site, capturing his subject on paper that he subsequently tore and collaged. “Exhibited here for the first time, these stunning works surround viewers with a luscious, richly textured and colored, immersive environment,” curator Joachim Homann says. “John Walker’s art offers a bold and imaginative demonstration of the possibilities inherent in the medium of drawing today.”

In an interview in his studio some weeks before the show, Walker talked about the importance of drawing for artists and art lovers. “Drawing is touching,” he said. “I am sure this museum will be rooms full of things that have been beautifully touched.”

Walker has lived in Maine since the 1980s and, after concluding his service as director of Boston University’s Graduate Program in Painting and Sculpture, now lives in Walpole. John Walker has represented Britain in the Venice Biennale and has received numerous awards and distinctions. The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; The Tate Gallery, London; the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, all exhibited his work in solo exhibitions. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art organized an exhibition of Walker’s work in 2001. The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine, presents John Walker: From Seal Point, from June 17 through October 29, 2017.

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