In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two
or more musical lines that are independent in contour and rhythm yet are
This exhibit explores the harmonic relationship that emerges from the juxtaposition of some resonant and extraordinary voices: the paintings of John Walker on the one hand and on the other, the myriad forms created by the anonymous sculptors, potters and weavers of traditional Africa.
John Walker was born in Birmingham England in 1939. From 1956 to 1960 he studied at Birmingham College of Art and was awarded the Distinguished Arts Council of Great Britain Drawing Prize and the Edwin Abbey Traveling Scholarship, which allowed him to continue his studies in Paris.
From 1967 to 1969, John Walker was a Gregory Fellow at Leeds University. He was awarded a Harkness fellowship to the United States (1969-70) and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. He has been artist-in-residence at Oxford University (1977-78) and at Monash University, Melbourne (1980). Walker has been a dedicated and influential teacher throughout his career and has held positions at the Royal College of Art, London; Yale University, New Haven; and the Victoria College of Arts, Melbourne. He has been Professor of Graduate Painting at Boston University since 1993, and is currently Director of the Graduate Painting and Sculpture Program at the University. From 2004-2008, Walker served on the Educational Advisory Board of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
John Walker represented the United Kingdom at the 36th Venice Biennale (1972). Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by the Hayward Gallery, London (1964); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1978); the Phillips Collection, Washington DC (1978, 1982, 2002); the Arts Council of Great Britain (1985); the Tate Gallery, London (1985); the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1987); the Arts Club of Chicago (1991-92); Boston University Art Gallery (1997); Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (1999); Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick (2001); the Portland Museum of Art (2005); and the Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham (2006).
John Walker has just returned to Boston from the opening of a solo exhibition at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Why was John Walker's recent show in Beijing such a success?
I believe John Walker's whole life's theme is the splendor of creation.
He works to set the four major classical components of nature (earth fire air water) into collisional chaos so dense and fecund that the viewer's eyes become like hands immersed in the living mud of life.
Because of what China has gone through in the last 100 years' generations of living memory, now for the Chinese people actually to experience what they can do and be as they shape their country with their own minds and hands, John's paintings prove to be an unexpected excitement and joy for them.
----Andrew Foley, April 2010
One of Walker's large landscape paintings was recently acquired by the National Gallery in Washington DC. Among the many public collections worldwide which own his work are: Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; British Museum, London; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Tate Gallery, London, England; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.