An Indefinable Realm

by Maeve Coudrelle

 

Harrison Walker’s 2015-2017 series, Portals, is composed of a repeated circular shape—an ethereal, planetary-like form—which offers a glimpse into an indefinable realm. Both the round elements and their surrounding borders are characterized throughout by diverse tonalities, textures and imagery. Operating as exploratory studies into the distinct effects of each component technique, the prints draw upon a wide variety of photographic and printmaking materials and processes, including etching and lithographic ink, liquid light emulsion, silver nitrate and cyanotype. The works often echo one another formally and materially, creating a visual play and inviting the viewer’s eye to track the oscillating pictorial effect. Stacked in row upon row, the repeated compositions engulf the viewer in a near-immersive space, dwarfing the human body and dominating the wall—inciting both awe and curiosity, on the one hand, and apprehension, on the other.

Walker has an abiding interest in the passage of time, notably the duration of both his investigative artistic process and the viewing time of the spectator. His work calls for prolonged attention, eliciting the analytical talents of the viewer, who is tasked with locating and identifying the individual elements at work in each print. Layered works replete with historical and material references, Walker’s prints offer an enticing challenge for both practitioners, who will take pleasure in identifying the plethora of techniques at play, and non-experts, who will engross themselves in the expressiveness of the chromatic and formal elements, and the mystery of the distorted found photographs. Whether interacted with solely on the basis of technical experimentation, or meditated upon within the context of the larger questions that it puts forth—the substance and passage of time; the emotiveness of texture and color; the nature of history and memory—Walker’s practice is replete with exploratory potential.