Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Nathan Walsh

Evening in Paris, 2014, Nathan Walsh
One of the things I'm quite conscious of in writing about art is that I don't play favorites. That is, I try not to emphasize only artist whose work I really like as opposed to those whose style and content, while often quite fascinating, interesting, and adept, don't garner the respect and admiration I have for painters such as the British artist Nathan Walsh. I love to see hyper-realism and I'm endlessly fascinated by the urban landscape, reflections, movement, and atmosphere. Moreover, Walsh's urban landscapes are huge. One might be tempted to call them "life-size," though given the subject matter, that might be stretching the term a bit.
Walsh's exactitude is incredible.
People who enjoy the type of work Walsh does might often forget that before the first brushstroke, comes hours and hours of research, critical decisions as to scale, viewpoints, and perspective (especially with the eyelevel street scenes Walsh seems to favor. Then there's the drawing. In featuring another urban artist whose work is similar to that of Walsh's, I suggested that that the artist used a projection device to save time and effort. Within days I received an angry e-mail from the artist emphatically stating otherwise and demanding a correction. I can't remember whether I obliged him or simply took down the offensive posting. In any case, let me make it clear, here and now, Nathan Walsh does not use a projector. He's a master at freehand drawing and good old pencil and yardstick draftsmanship as seen in the gif photo of Evening in Paris (top) and the New York City street scene NYC6AM (above).
Though Walsh's immense urban landscapes sell in the low six-figure range (in dollars), the man earns evert dime of it.
Nathan Walsh was born in Lincoln, United Kingdom in 1972. He earned his BFA degree from Liverpool School of Arts and his MFA from University of Hull. He has been painting for approximately fifteen years. His works have been exhibited in Korea, London, Switzerland, United States, and North Wales. He is represented by the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York. He currently lives and works in York, England. Walsh's giant pieces have reportedly been valued at as much as £80,000 ($125,000).

Rockefeller, 2013, Nathan Walsh
Before beginning work on his paintings, Walsh sometimes peruses more than 300 images and photographs of the location before committing to it. The overriding theme behind his works is an interplay between culture and location. He often draws inspiration from European and American art, such as Pointillism, Post-Impressionism, and (of course) Realism. From there he blocks areas with color and, over the subsequent months, layers are built up and sanded away. Though he seems to favor New York City, Walsh has also put together hyper-realistic images of cities such as Paris (bottom image) and Barcelona. For larger works, the entire process from start to finish can take up to a year, while some of his smaller pieces, though still grand in size, can take (only) about six months. Walsh's Rockefeller (above) is some 63 inches x 88 inches. Some of Walsh's paintings are over eleven feet wide.

New York Reflections, Nathan Walsh
Apple, 2011, Nathan Walsh
By using simple mathematical ratios Walsh begins by describe concrete forms within his picture plane. Over a period of time he draws and redraws buildings, manipulat-ing their height, width or nature in relation to other pictorial elements. By intro-ducing spatial recession to these elements the aim is to present a world the viewer can enter into and move around. Some of the more recent works deal with layers of information, such as the de-piction of reflective surfaces or the combination of inside and outside spaces as seen in his New York Reflections (above). Walsh explores the potential for re-resetting reality, sandwiching what's in front of, and behind, the viewer together much like his Apple (above, left). Duplicating the flatness of a photograph or a series of stitched together photographs is of no interest to Walsh. The reproduction in paint of these mechanical processes serves to negate the human experience of responding to the world.

Lake Street, 2018, Nathan Walsh
Of course the urban landscape is nothing new, nor is hyper-realism. However, Nathan Walsh belongs to a new generation of artists who are extending the boundaries of realist painting. His paintings demonstrate an ambitious effort in combining photographic source material with the traditional skills of the representational artist. This is not easy painting but the bracing clarity of his work and the satisfaction we can derive in spending time with it shows a significant achievement. Walsh has managed to combine architecture, painting and photography all into one. His works are not just highly detailed, but full of texture, and an exceptional sense of color. Walsh's Lake Street (above) showcases his adroit translation of atmospheric color to canvas.

Catching Fire, 2016, Nathan Walsh
Photorealism is a loaded and complex term coined by Louis Meisel in 1969. Walsh aims for his work to be as convincing as possible, but only on his own terms. Online or in print his work may seem photographic in appearance, but the actual nature of his paintings is very different. He finds his sketchbook to be of increasing importance even if just for notes on color or whatever he happens to be thinking about at the time. This immediate personal response to the environment plays an important role back in his studio where he is reliant mostly on the photographs he's taken. The end result is a heavily worked surface which aims to maximize the potential of the paint, and present an alternative reality to our own. Over the past three years Walsh's paintings have become more about describing particular weather conditions and atmosphere. He sees this as playing more of a role in future work where eventually the cityscape is just a stage to investigate the weather through paint.

Carousel, 2015, Nathan Walsh

P.S. Walsh also paints Ballerinas (2016)


No comments:

Post a Comment