13 - 17 August 2014
about the exhibition
Despite the diversity of Thornton Walker’s subject matter and technique, his interest in the dynamics of composition, perspective and spatial depth remains constant. While maintaining a focus on formal painterly concerns, Thornton incorporates subject matter recalled from dreams, travel and personal memories, conferring an ethereal, meditative quality to the work. Thornton’s recent works continue to explore both figurative and landscape images, sometimes embellished by superimposed haiku text. The figure studies of a man enacting mundane activities are a quiet reflection on the perfunctory tasks that we perform throughout our lives. As Thornton says: “perhaps a self-portrait, perhaps a memory of my father whose photos from the 1930’s I’ve sourced for a lot of my work.” These works speak of the many faces or masks that we wear throughout our lives. The rural landscapes of Japan, like the portraits, portray glimpses of everyday scenes, special only in their ordinariness. They are overwhelmingly beautiful yet mysterious, with the introduction of text shifting the landscape from the purely pictorial and offering more complex layers of seeing and meaning. His works include pastels on prepared watercolour paper and a technique of mixing oil paint with different alkyd mediums to create a very thin paint, with virtually no viscosity, allowing Thornton to produce a painterly effect that is fluid and unpredictable. In his recent series of etchings, Thornton re-interprets works already completed and creates studies for works still to come, yet the etchings arrive as finished works with a unique feel. As ever, his impressive and powerful canvases allow the viewers to immerse themselves in his extraordinary imagery. Demonstrating a masterful and sensitive handling of surfaces, Thornton’s works enchant us with their combination of unique material and spiritual qualities.
Thornton Walker studied printmaking at the Prahran College of Advanced Education and Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. After graduating in 1977, Thornton spent the next eight years travelling extensively throughout Europe and the United States and later undertook studio residencies in Spain and Malaysia. In 2007, Thornton was awarded a Printmaking Fellowship with the Australian Print Workshop in Melbourne. His most recent residency in Penang resulted in the ‘Georgetown’ series of works where faded photographs from temples and clan house walls inspired this captivating view of an alluring foreign culture. With over forty solo exhibitions to his name, Thornton has become one of Australia’s most successful and renowned figurative tonal painters. His work is represented in many collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Artbank, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (Japan), Parliament House and the British Museum.