19 March – 25 April 2020
Huxley-Parlour gallery are pleased to announce the first solo presentation of works by London-based painter Ella Walker. The new body of work, produced in 2019 and 2020, draws on a collected archive of varied imagery, and explores notions of stage, spectacle, desire and design. The exhibition includes both large and small-scale works, as well as a series of banner-style canvases and a fresco-like site-specific mural.
Inspired by medieval narrative and iconography, Walker’s works explore myth making through costume and role-play. The artist interweaves imagined narratives with reconstructed scenes from medieval and early modern paintings, along with other mediated and found imagery, moving freely between historical and contemporary sources. She collapses subject, object, time and place into dramatic and resplendent images.
Walker is interested in performative spaces, both public and private, and her compositions look to rituals of procession and pilgrimage and yet are alive with a rich and hedonistic carnival atmosphere. Walker’s paintings recast female subjects from both literary and art historical sources into new environments, and are given both agency and power in the reclamation of their stories. Harnessing the viewer’s gaze, Walker’s protagonists are in turn confrontational, seductive and playful.
Walker explores lust and longing through the duality of her compositions. Referencing a wide range of sources, including Commedia dell’arte and Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, Walker explores unrequited love as well as passion and play. Her masked figures are illusive and alluring at once, and represent a number of allegorical roles. Each canvas is thick with reference as well as individual tension and emotion. Walker invites her viewer to enter a series of twisted and transfigured narratives that, although related to her own associations about history and society, are left open to interpretation.
Stating the works are ‘lyrical in their creation’, Walker works intuitively, building her paintings through layers of thin brushstrokes and repeated marks to create a textured surface. Formal devices in the paintings, including translucent curtains and veils of smoke, disrupt the narrative of her work, while pattern and colour further disrupt and complicate the structure and story telling of her work. Bodies overlap, writhe and contort themselves within the shallow space of the pictorial frame, their highly ornamented figures shifting and stirring within their stage-like setting.