Vantage Point. Walker's work beckons the viewer into a strange world somewhere between the real and the virtual; a world the French philosopher Michel Foucault has called 'the utopia of the placeless place.' The works Walker has made for this show derive from sets she created in a house in London.
Ana Cristea Gallery is delighted to present Vantage Point, British artist Caroline Walker’s first solo exhibition
in the United States. Walker's work beckons the viewer into a strange world somewhere between the real
and the virtual; a world the French philosopher Michel Foucault has called 'the utopia of the placeless place.'
The works Walker has made for this show derive from sets she created in a house in London. Yet though the
starting point for Walker's work is an actual place, the strange and unexpected vantage points she exploits
result in a painted world that feels like a surreal version of reality. The scenes she creates open up, turn
around and delve behind the surfaces of mirrors. With their vertiginous angles and strategically-placed,
suggestive props (rubber gloves, hair clips, plastic bags, oranges), Walker's paintings are indebted to both
Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) and the recent film Chloe (2009), which opens with the female protagonist looking
at herself in a mirror.
Paintings of the past and present are even more obvious influences on Walker’s work. Hockney's early L.A. interiors come to mind, as does Manet's lively depiction of the mirrored Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), but the domestic scenes and nudes are also reminiscent of the Euston Road School and Lucian Freud. In choosing to engage with the female model as subject, Walker follows in a long and grand tradition. But as a younger woman depicting a slightly older, often sensuous yet vulnerable woman, Walker is arguably turning that tradition on its head as the viewer is confronted with a kind of implied sisterhood: one woman observing another's toilet, empathising with her anxieties and insecurities, and laughing with her as she cavorts in her underwear and explores the unknown terrain of a stranger’s house.
Walker only works with one female model at a time, but because of the mirror, her subject is endlessly repeatable. Is the woman she depicts engaging with multiple versions of herself, or is Walker playing with her own various imaginings of her subject? Certainly the viewer is privy to an intensely focused drama: a woman's seemingly private moments made public in a dream-like atmosphere. The mirror that recurs in Walker’s work (and that has been historically associated with vanity or esoteric knowledge) is surely the most obvious manifestation of her interest in objects with special symbolic and art historical resonance. At times disturbing, at others humorous or even wondrous, Walker's paintings direct the viewer to a world that is both familiar and strange. Neither wholly real nor fully imagined, it is indeed a 'placeless place.' Caroline Walker (b. 1982 in Scotland; lives and works in London) studied at both the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. In 2010, Walker was shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Threadneedle Prize. In 2009, she was the recipient of the RCA’s Valerie Beston Trust Prize, resulting in a solo show at London’s Marlborough Fine Art. Her work has been exhibited in London, Glasgow, New York, Berlin, Bucharest, and Turin.
Opening Reception Thursday February 24, 6 – 8 pm
Ana Cristea Gallery
521 West 26 Street between 10 and 11 Avenues, New York
open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm