[ISEA2011] Panel: James Faure Walker – Paint­ing fur­ther along the River

Panel Statement

Panel: The Big Bang of Electronic Art: Merging Abstraction and Representation in the Age of Digital Imaging

I came of age as a painter in the 1970’s, and was also for a while a critic, edit­ing the mag­a­zine Artscribe in the UK. Ex­hi­bi­tions of what we now term ‘con­cep­tual’ art claimed to go ‘be­yond’ paint­ing. There was talk of paint­ing being ‘over’. By the eight­ies paint­ing seemed to be resur­gent. The mil­i­tant styles of min­i­mal art were chal­lenged by free-form gen­res – new image, neo-ex­pres­sion­ist, pat­tern paint­ing. Dis­putes be­tween fig­u­ra­tion and ab­strac­tion were set aside. Whether you put a fish, a tri­an­gle or blob of or­ange in a com­po­si­tion did not re­ally mat­ter. I came to com­puter graph­ics in the mid eight­ies, and was in­spired by the free­dom, the colour and the speed. I aimed to in­te­grate all this with what en­gaged me in ‘reg­u­lar’ paint­ing, along with its de­vel­op­ing cul­ture. I still work in both modes most days. I think of it all as ‘just’ paint­ing. A blue is blue, what­ever the medium. I guard against the il­lu­sion that these won­der­ful new paints make you into an ‘ad­vanced’ artist. Yes, we have the free­dom to scan any­thing and throw it into a mix –I do this as ir­re­spon­si­bly as any­one else – but some­times you just get Pho­to­shop soup. I would like ‘dig­i­tal’ paint­ing to look un­forced. It does not have to be photo-based, log­i­cal, weird, noc­tur­nal, nat­ural or un­nat­ural. My own ap­proach has been draw­ing-based and some­what ges­tural. As for whether it is ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tional’ or ‘ab­stract’, well I would pre­fer it to be just play­ful.

  • James Faure Walker stud­ied at St Mar­tins (1966-70) and the RCA (1970-72). He co-founded Artscribe mag­a­zine in 1976, and edited it for eight years. Re­cent one-per­son ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude Ga­lerie Wolf Lieser (2003); Ga­lerie der Gegen­wart, Wies­baden (2000, 2001). Group ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude Jer­wood Draw­ing Prize (2010); ‘Dig­i­tal Pi­o­neers’ at the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum (2009); ‘Imag­ing by Num­bers’, Block Mu­seum, Illi­nois, USA (2008); Sig­graph, USA (eight times 1995-2007); John Moores, Liv­er­pool (1982, 2002); Bloomberg Space (2005); DAM Gallery, Berlin (2003, 2005, 2009). In 1998 he won the ‘Golden Plot­ter’ at Com­put­erkunst, Glad­beck, Ger­many. His ‘Paint­ing the Dig­i­tal River: How an Artist Learned to Love the Com­puter’, (2006, Pren­tice Hall, USA), won a New Eng­land Book Show Award. He is Reader in Paint­ing and the Com­puter at Cam­ber­well, UK.

Full text (PDF) p. 2530-2531