Aldo Walker

Galarie Stähli

It would not be contradictory to say that Aldo Walker carries the principle of clarity in his images to the point where it becomes enigmatic and puzzlelike. Although the ambiguity of the images may entice the viewer to see them in terms of the age-old game of the picture puzzle, their visual clarity foils any attempt to assign a definitive, unequivocal meaning. Paradoxically, the jarring aspect of these drawings derives from their being so carefully calculated, a quality expressed not only in their deliberative execution—precise white-line brushwork on a monochromatic (usually black) ground—but also in Walker’s conceptual approach to finding or generating images. Walker’s combinatorial process gives him a playful, capricious control over a large range of forms, and allows him to join these into ever new groupings and realities. He constructs thoroughly synthetic images that reject any mimetic function and yet do not necessarily become abstract or nonobjective.

The explosiveness of Walker’s recent work rests in no small measure on the fact that the forms approximate a supposedly readable objectivity that in the last analysis proves illusory. We are confronted with forms that mock all reason and, thereby, our overly perfected conceptual systems. A friendly anarchy reigns, in which each sign fragment participates in defining the structure of the composition and yet resists being limited in its own individual development by incorporation into these “suprasigns.” Multiple cross-connections arise between the images and subimages and, because certain elements recur in numerous drawings, between various works as well. These free-floating connections frequently take on a quality of true, if comically chaste, obscenity.

The viewer is attracted by the apparent familiarity of the images only to feel disoriented upon closer inspection. They do not withdraw from our gaze or prohibit dialogue, but their flatness prevents visual “entrance” into the picture. They can’t be possessed; as tautologically self-referential signs, they are not metaphorical. Walker upsets our conventions of seeing and interpreting in a highly artful way, for in viewing his images we know only as much as we see, rather than seeing only as much as we know The decisive factor is the images’ refusal to fulfill expectations. They cannot be conceptually grasped, and at the same time they avoid arbitrariness. This opens up a space free of hierarchical ordering, a space that allows the viewer his or her own perception of the image without doing it injury Walker preserves not only the autonomy of the image but that of the viewer’he establishes the framework for an open discourse which, for all its freedom of play, remains very precise, and thereby produces an extremely disorienting experience.

Max Wechsler

Translated from the German by Leslie Strickland.