By Chrom-Art Director Beata Kozlowska
Nara Walker's work holds a sense of the physical, sensual and erotic. She works wildly on the big abstract canvases. The application of the paint is tangible and yet palpability by hands of the audience is unattainable. In many cases this could be said the same for the body. Her imagination and fantasy are a constant elements in completing the evocative seductive layers of her work.
Her current expression revolves around freedom within movement and gesture. She is interested in how her body can leave a mark – and how her subconscious pushes these gestures out.
Nara was born in 1990 surrounded by the beautiful landscapes of Springbrook Australia. In 2010 she moved to Norway for a year. Then went to Brisbane where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours at Griffith University. In May 2014 she held her first solo show at Woolloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane Australia. After that She relocated to the UK, since relocating She have exhibited world wide in over 30 exhibitions.
Walker performed live at Venice Art House during the Venice Biennale August 2015. Other main achievements include the finalist exhibition for The Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2015 (UK), The Summer Art Award 2015 (UK), SeeMe award 2015 (USA) and The Blooom Award 2015 (Germany) where she made it as one of the long list artist.
Has your practice always revolved around abstraction? How did you come about to your current means of expression?
I believe i've always had an abstract mind. During high school I became more focussed on creating large abstract paintings and in turn won the acquisitive art award.
My process explores expansion of my own body through the flexible physicality of art. As I lose my self within the physical world I am creating a new space. Engaging with freedom of expression through movement and gesture. I came about my current form of expression after soaking up a lot of visual and emotional knowledge in Oslo and then moving back to Australia. I've always been abstract based, however ones I touched down in Brisbane I began to focus more closely on the form of the body.
How do you choose the themes of your works?
Themes which I cover within my work evolve from my surroundings. The figures may appear and I continue to bring them outward. Other times I am inspired by people around me or purely from the freedom and excitement painting brings me.
You are a painter but also sporadically you work as a performer. How does it enrich your painting? Or is it considered as a separate practice? What are your favourite media to express yourself?
My favourite media to express within is oil paint. I love the fluidity of it. My performances go in hand with my paintings as both inspire development within the other.
Working within performance allows me to express specific elements that I may not be able to within painting. For instance I am able to use my entire body and be present in that specific space, thus becoming the medium interacting with the material.
With a painting I create in a personal space and then join the spectators to watch the aftermath. Whereas with a performance I am inviting the audience to partake in a personal moment in the present time.
Could you tell us about the creative process since initial thoughts to completion?
My creative process begins with me having an excess amount of energy that I recognise as creative energy. When I start my paintings I block in colours or use my hands to smear paint. Oil paint is lush and seductive which inspires me to create. My work is very gestural, this process is pushed and pulled across the canvas. If I have been inspired by a shape, image, moment or person, this inspiration will be interwoven. Once I have painted most of the work I repaint the background so it holds the foreground. I then do my final touches which bring the painting together.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I've been told my work holds similarities to Cecily Brown and Francis Bacon. Both are admirable artists and I would be honoured to see how my work sits between the two of them. I would also enjoy observing how some of my more abstract pieces hang with the expressive artist Joan Mitchell. Within performance I can't go past a collaboration with Marina Abramovic.
Who has influenced you the most?
There's not a specific person who has influenced me the most, my inspirations come from different interactions such as language, colour, dance, food, texture, fabric, travel, nature and people. Movement, form and emotions such as love or lust inspire me to create. So people who evoke this within me inspire my work.
What other artists do you admire? What is your favourite piece of art?
I admire the artists who have been before me, paving the way and creating new grounds in the art world and society. Other artists I admire are the emerging artists who continue to create after becoming aware of the effort and other elements that come with being a professional artist.
I wouldn't say I have a favourite art piece, a work which comes to mind and I have always enjoyed is Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters, hanging in the Louvre. It reminds me of my sister and I growing up together and the beauty of femininity.
How would you describe the current art scene in London and UK?
London is a bustling city full of galleries and many art events - such as Tribe the event Chrom-Art held at Ugly Duck in 2015. This means artists are able to view new work every day and simultaneously network. I think the population in London are immersed and thrive off of the art scene, it's a part of the landscape.
From what I've seen people are less inclined to buy emerging artists work. Possibly because of lack of available space in their homes? Or perhaps due to cheap mass produced works being available. It may also be that Londoners are collectors so watch the artists for some time before acquiring a piece.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your forthcoming projects/ exhibitions?
I am currently exhibiting in a group show at Axis Gallery on the Sunshine Coast Australia and will continue exhibiting with them throughout the year. Beauty Amongst Chaos is my next solo show at Mine Sanat Galerisi, Bodrum Turkey– opening the 17th of May with a number of paintings and a live performance – The show will close on the 6th of June. Also during May I will be in Tbilisi Georgia for a 10 day artist in residence for the event Paint for Georgia. I will also be featured with an interview and spread in Banshee Magazine out May 2016.
In June I am off to New York City to exhibit in the group show The Heart Beat of Mother Earth curated by Stefania Carrozzini at Onishi Project opening on the 16th and closing on the 29th. Other projects include group shows at The Micro Gallery, Milan Italy, Clerkenwell Gallery, 19 Greek Street Design Gallery and The Strand Gallery the latter three located in London UK and associated with WITP collective.
To find out more about Nara Walker's work please visit www.naraisart.com