Introduction by Chloé Wolifson.
Recently, Jake Walker has been scrolling the edge of the canvas, reimagining the ceramic frames that surrounded many of his earlier paintings. These sculptural components are a nod to the way architectural designs are inevitably influenced by their natural and built surroundings. Architecture has been an ongoing interest of Walker's, and in this new body of work, is suggested in paintings including The Hyde House, which began as a collection of accidental marks accumulated on a board on the artist's desk. As Walker sees it, the artist helps the paintings to find their own final form, a process which may begin with unexpected accumulations or underpainting, before an exercise in obliteration takes over in the search for a resolution.
While architecture's influence is ever-present, the paintings in I am in Hobart retreat into the interior, reflecting Walker's growing concern with screen-based modes of viewing. With "every image in the solar system" (as the artist puts it) instantly available at our fingertips, quality is sacrificed in favour of quantity. Scale, depth and time are compromised in favour of quick and easy access to imagery. Walker's paintings propose an antidote to this status quo, revealing themselves gradually through slow and close looking. In Walker's three-dimensional interventions the canvas scrolls back into itself, riffing on and rupturing the ceaseless scrolling that defines the online viewing experience.
These paintings find Walker reckoning between the traditions of abstract painting, and this contemporary screen-based condition. In some works, the sleek, shiny gadgets appear in a roughly painted vernacular, as if an alien were describing a found object, its screen now mercifully obsolete. The multicoloured, layered brushstrokes in other works suggest the capacity of these dark voids to overwhelm when activated: these paintings are composed of networks of lines or enlarged pixel patchworks, clearly visible in some cases, and blurred or blotted out in others. The eye is drawn around the more open compositions, and encouraged to find its way through the texture of those that are more densely layered. Walker's labour is ingrained in each work, making the case for what he terms "the dying art of a closer inspection."
The exhibition's title bluntly states Walker's location, dispelling the cosmopolitan effects of social media and acknowledging the current circumstances which bind yet separate (albeit within ever-changing parameters, as the artist makes a now-permitted, last-minute dash to Sydney to attend the opening of his own show). This setting further exacerbates the duality which preoccupies Walker: More time is spent staring at the harsh light of screens as social distance leads to virtual connection. But we are also compelled to observe our immediate surroundings more closely than ever before – allowing the traces imbued in architecture, landscape, or a painting to slowly reveal themselves.
Press release courtesy Gallery 9.