Then, And Almost Now, The Early 1970s and the 2010s
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Jerry Walden: Then, And Almost Now, The Early 1970s and the 2010s
December 10, 2022- January 28, 2023
Opening reception: Saturday, December 10 from 6-8 pm
SLAG & RX Galleries are pleased to announce an exhibition of artwork by the late South Carolina artist Jerry Walden. This exhibition will feature four hard-edged minimal and one figurative acrylic painting from the early 1970s and 15 hard-edged acrylic on canvas or panel paintings of the artist's late career from the 2010s.
Robert Jerome (Jerry) Walden, Sr. (b. 1941, Langdale AL; d. 2019, Rock Hill, SC, USA) was schooled heavily in the academic tradition of figure drawing and was equally accomplished in representation and pure abstraction, which he explored primarily in painting and drawing.
Although highly influenced first by the New York School and later by Minimalism, stylistically, Walden's studio practice waxed and waned between Expressionism, Minimalism, and Surrealism and, at times, combined aspects of all these styles in the same artwork well before it was commonplace to do so today. This exhibition focuses on hard-edged abstraction with one exception, a figurative crucifix from 1973, which reveals the otherwise subtle, yet, guiding influence of the Italian Renaissance.
The earliest hard-edged minimal works date from 1971 and concern images as ideas, which Jerry Walden began exploring in his graduate thesis titled, Mental Image as Visual Image. He de-emphasized the three-dimensional quality of these stretched canvases by angling the back side of the stretcher to make these images appear as two-dimensional as possible, thus denying their physicality.
In the later work from the 2010s included in this exhibition, made in the last decade of the artist's life, Walden exuberantly re-embraced hard-edged abstraction after surviving cancer and retiring from teaching. These zig-zagging, colorful paintings differ from the early geometric work in that the painting wraps around the edge of the stretcher, reinforcing the work's physicality and suggesting a cube-like solid.
No matter what decade or style they were painted, formalist themes of geometry and color theory are a constant presence in Walden's work. He stated, "The diagonal has more inherent tension because it leans or slants as if falling or climbing…Related to human movement or gesture, the diagonal may be its distillation abstractly. It's like an arm, hinged at the shoulder, reaches out, up, down, across in a slanted direction. By stacking or repeating, locomotion is suggested, and the whole body is in arrested motion, or "tension in repose," as Michelangelo tagged it. Years ago, I painted crucifixions, depositions, and ascensions this way ... the tall vertical format with diagonals like X's or Y's, with little, if any, depicted body or body parts."
This exhibition is a rediscovery of Walden's rigorous conceptual thinking and prodigious output in over 50 years of studio practice in American college towns outside of major metropolitan art centers. This relative isolation gave the artist the mental space to explore formalism fundamentals in either geometric or figurative guises without the distractions and whims of the contemporary art market. Thus, viewers are afforded an exceptional opportunity to experience an overlooked idiomatic artistic perspective.
About the artist:
Walden’s work has been exhibited across the US and around the world, including these institutions:
The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; Birmingham Museum of Art, AL; the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; the Columbia Museum of Art, SC; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, AL; Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock, AR and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, TN; Palazzo Vagnotti, Italy; Nam-Do Fine Arts Center Gallery, South Korea; The Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Alaska State Museum, Juneau, and The Mississippi Pavilion at The Louisiana World Exposition, New Orleans; among others. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including: the Columbia Museum of Art, SC; Capitol One Bank; The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA; Greenville National Bank Collection, MS; Delta State University, Cleveland, MS; The Meridian Museum of Art, MS; and others. Taking advantage of the GI Bill for his service in the US Air Force (1960-62) Jerry Walden earned his BFA from Auburn University (Auburn, AL) in 1968 and his MFA in painting from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA) in 1971.
Title: Then, And Almost Now, The Early 1970s and the 2010s
Artist: Jerry Walden
Address: Slag & RX, 522 West 19th street, NY, NY 10011
Dates: Dec. 10, 2022- Jan. 28, 2023
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 AM - 1 PM and 2- 6 PM
Sunday and Monday closed
For available works, please contact the gallery:
Irina Protopopescu at Slag Gallery
Tel: +1 212-967-9818