JAMES WALSH (b. 1954)
Jim's style is something more like an anti-style. A Walsh is recognizable by its dramatic paint effects, usually with one or two veritable tidal waves of acrylic paint on an otherwise placid ocean of color. But formal commonalities end there. The only rule in play is continual reinvention from work to work. This means that color can vary widely, from acidic primaries to foggy neutrals. The applications range from gigantic brushwork to fluid pours. Surface effects include deliberate application of flat color next to mysterious laminations formed by transparent acrylic bases flecked with liquid paint.
It's a truism that reproduction doesn't do justice to good painting, but it's especially apt in Jim's case, as his canvases sometimes have crests of paint several inches thick adorning areas that have been stained, glazed, or scraped down to the cotton. Though hung on the wall and meant to be viewed from the front, many of them have a depth of six or eight inches. Crucial, though, is that Jim is employing the entire depth.
Onward North (2018) exemplifies the range. A bulging mass of lime and powder blue intrudes from the left side, abutting an even greater mass with a prickly, tortured surface. A wad of green, orange, brown, and Burnt Sienna pushes up from below, with marks from the tool used for the shove evident as complex scalloping on the picture's surface. The lower right is a quiet, translucent blue beneath which one can see submerged ovals dispersing around the edges. A pearly coating has been poured across the middle and allowed to drip in what is now the upward direction of the painting.
Open A (2019)—note the guitar reference—is a simpler affair in which white paint smeared with Ultramarine and aqua pushes around a thick ridge of deliciously flat black in a big, graceful swirl. Hints of ochre, red, and yellow-green push in from the sides, remnants of earlier applications. But even without the numerous revisions of Onward North, he has generated the sort of complexity that one associates with Flemish altarpieces or landscape photography. One can just look and look into them, discovering more.
How to do this has always been a hard problem, and remains one. Lacking Jim's visual acumen and relentless making, abstraction itself offers no clue as to why one would execute any particular pour or smear or scrape at any given point on the rectangle. Too, composition of this much complexity is a gargantuan challenge. Consider Natural (2019), which contains a frosted sweep on the lower half with a coil of candy red poking through, stains of blue, pink, and green on the right, troubled mashes of various colors across the top, and a fat lip of white in the middle. Yet in aggregate, those four regions cooperate as distinct units, and the result is pleasingly simple. It looks like the product of outsize visual genius, and it also looks like there's nothing to it.
James Walsh has shown widely throughout the United States He had solo exhibitions at Flowers East in London, the Mendel Art Gallery up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Baker Sponder in Boca Raton, FL and locally, over the years, at Galeria Joan Prats, Long Fine Art, and Berry Campbell Gallery. He was a fixture in Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society shows in the 1990s, and Richard Timperio's quixotic Sideshow exhibitions in Williamsburg throughout the 2000s. Notable two-person and group shows took place at the Edmonton Art Gallery, the Martin Brest Museum in Jacksonville, FL, the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH, and the Portland (Oregon) Museum of Art as part of "Clement Greenberg: A Critic's Collection."
b. 1954, Newark, New Jersey
1976, BA, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
1980, MFA, Syracuse University, New York
Galeria Joan Prats, New York, 1985.
Galeria Joan Prats, New York, 1988.
Flowers East Gallery, London, 1991.
The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1997.
Long Fine Art, New York, 2001.
Spanierman Modern, New York, 2012.
Baker Sponder Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida, 2015.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, 2014.
Corning Glass Center, Corning, New York, 11th Annual Southern Tier Show, 1974.
Newark Museum, New Jersey, 1st Biennial, New Jersey Artists, 1977.
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, New York, 42nd Annual Exhibition of Artists of Central New York, 1979.
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, The Syracuse Show, 1980.
The Clayworks Studio Workshop, New York, Work from 1980 and 1981, 1981.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, New York Clay, 1981.
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York (traveled to James Yaw Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan; Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Meyer Breier Weiss Gallery, San Francisco; Adelle Taylor Fine Art, Dallas, Texas; Clayworks Studio Workshop, New York), New Yorks in Clay III, 1981 – 82.
Sculpture Center, New York, East Coast Clay, 1982.
Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona (traveled to Galeria Joan Prats, New York), Five American Artists, 1983 – 84.
Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada, 1985.
Galeria Joan Prats, New York, Another Dimension, 1985.
Richard Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, New York, Pre-Post Modern: Good Art in the Art of Our Time Canton, 1985.
Greene Street Gallery, New York, Triangle – New York, 1986.
Jerusalem Gallery, New York, New Modernists, 1986.
Ted Greenwald Gallery, New York, Retinal Visions, 1987.
Associated American Artists, New York, New Painting, 1990.
Flowers East, London, Small Is Beautiful – Abstract, 1991.
Flowers East, London, 1992.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998.
Doug Udell Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Group Exhibition, 1998.
55 Mercer, New York, Abstract Eight, 1999.
Long Fine Art, New York, The Painting Aesthetic, 1999.
The Puffin Room, New York, 1999.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1999, 2000.
Long Fine Art, New York, 2000.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2001.
Cooperstown Art Association, New York, Artists in the Industry, 2001.
Long Fine Art, New York, 2001.
The Martin Brest Museum, Jacksonville University, Florida, 2001.
The Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, Clement Greenberg: A Critic’s Collection, 2001.
Long Fine Art, New York, 2002.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
Art Council UCCCA, Oneonta, New York, Aficionados, 2007.
Flowers Gallery, New York, 2007.
Islip Art Museum, East Islip, New York, Surface Impressions, 2007.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, Knocking at the Door, 2007.
Triangle, Brooklyn, 25th Anniversary Alumni Exhibition, 2007.
Tribes Gallery, New York, Paintings of Color, 2007.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2008.
Flowers Gallery, New York, 2008.
Forman Gallery, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, 2008.
Gallery 2, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2008.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2008.
Flowers Gallery, New York, 2009.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2009, 2010, 2011.
The Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2009, 2010, 2011.
Spanierman Modern, New York, 15 Contemporary Artists Represented by Spanierman, 2011.
Spanierman Modern, New York, Gallery Selections, 2012.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire, 2012.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2012, 2013.
Spanierman Modern, New York, Dripping, Pouring, Staining, 2013.
Flowers Gallery, New York, Small is Beautiful, 2014.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2014, 2015, 2016.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, Summer Selections, 2014, 2015, 2016.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, Noah Becker Presents—Something, 2016.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, Summer Selections, 2017.
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, 2017, 2018.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2019.
Berry Campbell, New York, Artist Insights/ Contemporary Highlights, 2020.
Kinosaito, Verplanck, New York, Kikuo Saito and Friends: New York City Downtown and Beyond, 1970s and 1980s, 2023.
Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Portland Museum of Art, Oregon