Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art will play hosts to Bristol-based Stencil come Graffiti artist Nick Walker’s first solo exhibition in the United States Pretty Decorating. Pretty Decorating will feature Walker’s most intricate stencil paintings to date, all related to the satirical narrative of the English Vandal from his "Morning After" series. Walker presents some 30 new works in the exhibition, revealing the exploits of a character whose mission is world domination through artistic expression. Pretty Decorating will be on view February 2 through February 24, 2008, with an opening reception held on February 2, from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. A custom-designed, 20-foot hot air balloon, the Vandal’s mode of transport, will be tethered outside the gallery and scheduled to launch over Hollywood air space as part of the exhibition.
Pretty Decorating follows the path of one man – the Vandal. Each painting represents the character’s endeavors to bring the dull architecture of the world’s largest cities back to life, animated with color – a more dramatic turn on the term ‘painting the town red’. The paintings reveal the Vandal’s chosen cities (including Bristol, Sydney, London, New York, and Los Angeles), his tools, and clues as to how he sets about achieving his ultimate goal, but never disclose his true identity. The series of works entitled ‘The Morning After’
illustrate the Vandal taking a moment to observe his achievements from the night before. "He is the quintessential Englishman," states Walker, "observing something he shouldn’t have done, getting away with it – a good night’s reflective moment. Up close or at a distance, he’s scott free." The Vandal is the archetypal practitioner of urban art,
and an ironic symbol of the myth that now surrounds this worldwide phenomenon. The show will unfold like a story, each painting depicting another page in the narrative.
"I’ve put a lot of time into the work and have explored new ideas, so I’m looking forward to exhibiting the pieces," said Walker. "A solo in LA has been on my mind for a few years now so it’s good to be showing a body of work about a character who epitomizes the street art culture."
Walker has perfected his technique of combining intricate stencil images with his conventional freehand methods since his initial experimentations in 1992. The artist continues to evolve his style, which allows him to juxtapose almost photographic imagery with the rawness of a traditional graffiti aesthetic. "Stencils introduce an impact element to my work," explains Walker. "They allow me to take an image from anywhere – dissect any part of life – and recreate it on any surface."
Walker frequently includes elements of humor and irony in his work. "Painting is a form of escapism for me," he states. "And if my work allows the spectator to do the same thing, then I’ve achieved more than I set out to do."
Nick Walker’s Bio…
Bristol born artist Nick Walker emerged from the now infamous & groundbreaking Wild Bunch/Bristol Sound scene of the early 1980s. It was from the artistic element that spawned Nick aka Ego.
It was over two decades ago, when the baby-faced B-Boy was in his mid teens; he walked into the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and walked out with an agreement with them to host a group graffiti show. He conceptualized, co-curated & exhibited work within this breakthrough exhibition, simply titled ‘Graffiti Art’ and featured the work of 3D, Z- Boys, Fade, Jaffa, Pride & The Bomb Squad. This was one of the first times in the UK that street work had been given a legitimate showcase from the outside in.
This elevated Nick from ‘Vandal’ (a recurring theme in his work to date) to Artist and created the opportunity for him to paint the film sets of movies ranging from Judge Dredd to Hackers, B-Monkey and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. It was during this brief move away from street work that he shed his infamous EGO tag and re-emerged as Nick Walker the Apish Angel.
As a forerunner to Banksy who once called him an "enigma," and the now mainstream British stencil/graffiti phenomenon, he has always been a pioneer of his field. Constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of traditional graffiti by combining intricate stencil images with his conventional freehand methods, he has always worked without fear of
being pigeonholed and remains artistically landscaped, constantly innovative and thought-provoking. In more recent years, his distinctive style has effortlessly made the transition from world streets to gallery walls, leading to him exhibit his work worldwide in solo and group shows in London, Canada, Tokyo, Berlin, Taiwan and numerous venues in the US.
His highly acclaimed 2006 Bristol show titled The Art of Nick Walker took a retrospective look at his work from 1994 to present. This was quickly followed up by the release of his piece titled ‘The Moona Lisa’ which stole the show at POW’s annual shin-dig, Santa’s Ghetto, the old girl even getting her ‘cheeks’ out on the BBC’s coverage of the event for News Night. Having conceived and cut this, the latest of subversions of the ‘world’s most famous portrait’, Nick painted the image for the first time at the Nuart Music and Art festival ‘06 held in Stavanger, Norway each September. The execution of the piece was caught on film and has received over 40,000 views on You Tube.
The driving force behind ‘Nuart’ Martin Reed recently commented, "Though he’s not really aware of it, Nick is a founder member of Nuart. Had he not responded with the enthusiasm he did back in 2005, then it’s doubtful we’d have continued to develop it in the direction we have."
This year’s festival saw him once again drop two of most talked about works of the event, a hand painted version of the ‘London Morning After’ & "Rapunzel", which again can be found on YouTube & Flikr respectively.
As well as the sold out To Have and To Hold show at The Wonderful Workshop in Bristol, 2007, Nick has also seen his editions sell out at the Randall-Scott Gallery in Washington DC and was featured in the Found show at the Leonard Street Gallery, London. Autumn 2007 saw him exhibit in London what he himself has referred to as his ‘hardest & most time consuming body of work to date’ in London. 2008 sees Nick kicking off with his first solo show in Los Angeles, Pretty Decorating, at the Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art in February.
Nick continues to be hugely popular in the UK and worldwide. Currently, he has two pieces in the world’s first urban art auction at Bonhams in London. The true gent of the street art scene (yes, way before it went showbiz!), please welcome to Hollywood Nick Walker aka The Apish Angel and man of many hats!