Vitrine Bermondsey Street's latest exhibition features new paintings by John Walter and encapsulates the ornate, bold and iconoclastic vision of his maximalist aesthetic.
'The Rococo Riots' encompasses digitally printed grounds, resin and layers of mark making and imagery that are built up into paintings that use grids, craquelure and collage to achieve spatial flatness.
Walter's work in performance and virtual and digital media is used as a way of gathering imagery to embed in his paintings. In this new work, he explores resin as a device for creating ever more layered and dense surfaces that incorporate this imagery. Incorporating collage and texture into his surfaces before returning them to flatness via a self-levelling pour of resin, which can then in turn be drawn over, Walter plays with notions of depth and flatness, collage and perspective, illusion and reality.
"I've made a lot of paintings for this show, which is characteristic of my methodology - I work this way because (a) it allows me to edit down afterwards and (b) the way I think about the paintings as a series is as a syntax", says Walter. "The dilemma is to make something that works as a whole but is not so hermetic that it can't be broken apart and shown and understood in its constituent parts. We have shown some of the work as individual paintings, some as diptychs and triptychs and some as a salon hang. This show is a shift in the sense that much of my work of the past two years has been to contextualise the paintings within a larger installation but with 'The Rococo Riots' we have bought the work back into the context of the white space, thus forcing the work to adapt and clarify itself in a new way.
"The new paintings bring together new images such as temporary tattoos of bats, werewolves and swords with longstanding images of King Tut. I've used a lot of patterns in these new paintings; organic / random ones made using craquelure, graphic ones made with spray paint and stencilling and digitally printed photographic ones. I hope people like the new work and get into it. It's bright and colourful and very playful - hovering on the cusp of good and bad taste, received beauty and ugliness and humour and seriousness. I love the atmosphere we've created through the installation of the works in the gallery and I want people to enjoy being amongst the work."