Samuel Walsh…Paintologically Speaking

Two Things

As an artist I have always drawn. My first serious art works were drawings. I have painted but the two processes have not always gone in tandem; I either drew or I painted. Occasionally I have attempted to transfer the act of drawing into the act of painting but up until recently there has always been a trade-off. Something has been lost in the process which has not meant that the painting had failed; just that it was not a drawing and had found its own comfortable, painting identity that was not in debt to any other process.

Drawing 303, 2001

Drawing 410 (Frieze), 2006

Up until 2006 I was an inveterate user of charcoal and conté on paper. The mediums seemed to allow me the illusion of control but in fact they often did what they liked when applied to a surface. This conflict was challenging. Someone had suggested to me pasting paper to canvas (á la Anne Madden) so the fluency of drawing could be transferred but I wasn’t convinced. While working in France; teaching in an art college in Pont-Aven in the aforementioned year I speculatively adopted the use of encre de chine (Chinese ink) to see what it was like and a lot of things changed. Drawings that I had been making in charcoal were now carried out with brush and ink and their starkness and clarity told me that this could be applied to canvas as well using paint.

The painted shapes in my work derive from glimpses of the world as I move through it; the black lines are the registered movements that come from small sketches made in situ and are a form of ‘visual tracking’, the way I see structure or activity in anything I may look at. The intention in combining the two is to establish a hermetic whole, a work that can be explained but can also be appreciated without reference to its origins.

Ambit XVII, 2002

Chapel V, 2011

Where once painting was something I thought should be made as a statement of an individual’s serious intent, it is now made by me as a natural extension of my drawing and of my thinking. These processes can happen naturally, in minutes, over time, eventually, or never; we just don’t know. It is likely that the next step will be equally surprising.

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