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Steve Walker

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About the Artist

"Internationally reknowned artist
Steve Walker Passes Away at Age 50."

Drawing is one of Steve Walker's earliest childhood memories. He recollects drawing pictures from about the age of three or four years old. Drawing came naturally to the Toronto artist, and his love of the art form continued into his adulthood. As a self-taught artist, Walker only began painting after a trip to Europe when he was 25 years old. During the trip, he spent much of his time in Europe touring the great galleries and museums.

In his words it was the first time he was exposed to great painting, and the first time he recognized the potential power of the art form. "I was moved by something that I was capable of doing," he said. His first paintings were done in a somewhat secretive way, as he had no intention of exhibiting or selling, and had no aspirations of becoming a professional artist.

Producing art about his life and the lives of those around him is as natural to Walker as his first childhood drawings. As a gay man, Walker is acutely aware that he is living during a period of history that is both the best of times and the worst of times. There is more freedom and acceptance for gay men and women, while at the same time AIDS has devastated the gay population.

But Walker's paintings are not about gay people or homosexuality. He describes his art as being about love, hate, pain, joy, touch, communication, beauty, loneliness, attraction, hope, despair, life and death. His art includes universal themes regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic class, culture or sexual orientation. However, his work is unique because he conveys these themes through the subjects in his paintings, young gay men. "Remove the gender of the painting's subjects and what we have is human relationships in general, and one's relationship to the world itself," he said. "As a homosexual I have been moved, educated, and inspired by works that deal with a heterosexual context. Why would I assume that a heterosexual would be incapable of appreciating work that speaks to common themes in life, as seen through my eyes as a gay man? If the heterosexual population is unable to do this, then the loss is theirs, not mine."

If Walker were an abstract painter or a landscape artist, he says his sexual orientation wouldn't matter. But since his paintings are about gay life, his sexual orientation becomes more important than his cultural background, age, or nationality. The focus of his paintings often depicts sadness and loneliness to reflect the reality that much of anyone's life is sad and lonely. Walker often portrays people in relationships as separate entities because that is the way he views them. He also uses a small and consistent palette of colours because he is comfortable with them and the colours provide the desired results. "Colour is very powerful and a little can go a long way if used effectively," he said. "Some colours are very exciting to me, while others are quite offensive. Painting flesh is very exciting because of the huge variations possible within a very small colour range."

Walker's artworks are very large, always measuring 36" by 48". He creates large paintings because he believes that a large image is more appealing than a smaller one. "Whether it's a television screen, cinema screen, or an image in a magazine, the size of the image connotes a degree of importance." Walker said belonging to an oppressed minority group has been a driving force in creating his art. "Any minority wants and needs to find artistic voices that reflect their own personal situations, and, in doing so, validate and record their lives and cultures for themselves, and for the larger world." Walker said he experiences many small rewards during the creative process. "After hours of painting, I stand back and look at something that wasn't there before -- a hand, face, or piece of fabric will exist where there was once a blank canvas."

As an artist, Walker said it's exciting to be working at a point in history where there is an audience ready to appreciate and consume his creations. "It is very rare to find success as an artist in your lifetime. My work will be around long after me, but seeing it affect people at the time that I am creating it is very rewarding."

In recent years Steve Walker's work has been exhibited in galleries in Toronto , Montreal , New York , Philadelphia and Key West . The gay community of North America has responded very positively to Walker 's art. He says, "I am very aware of the appreciation from a group of people who recognize the time, energy and talent devoted to a body of work that speaks specifically to them but at the same time exists in the larger world in which we all live."

Artist Statement

I see my work as a documentation, an interpretation, a crystallization of singular moments rendered in line, color, light, shadow, using a hundred brushes, a thousand colors, and a million brushstrokes. I strive to make people stop, if only for a moment, think and actually feel something.  My paintings contain as many questions as answers.  I have never pretended to represent, depict, or even understand every homosexual or the sub-cultures within a gay culture. No heterosexual has ever represented all heterosexual people or their life experiences. It would be both naive and false for me to even attempt to do so with gay people. It simply never occurred to me to paint about themes in any other context than that of my own life as a person who happens to be gay. Why would I create paintings whose context was anything other than the truth of my life as a gay man?  I have worked within the confines of a realist painter, depicting moments. I think my paintings are far more about the experience of life, than "gay life."

I think of my paintings as songs. The visual impact of the painting is the music, and the actual content (what is happening) is the words. Of course, for many people, the words do not matter, and for others, vice versa. The ideas for paintings come from everywhere. From that which I have personally seen or experienced, to things that are a more universal part of the human condition. I tend to be able to look at life as a whole, made up of individual moments. I may think for years before making a specific painting, while another idea may become a painting days after the initial inspiration. I constantly make notes and sketches of ideas, for fear that I may forget them.

Realism, Classicism, Romanticism ... I really do not think too much about what "style" I am painting in.  I taught myself, so I guess it is my own style. I'm sure that I have been greatly affected (both positively and negatively, both consciously and subconsciously) by everything my eyes have seen. My mind processes this information into an image, and my right hand creates a painting.  I hope that my paintings inspire, entertain, provoke, challenge, and in a small way make this world a more beautiful place to live. I hope that they live on long after all of us."

Steve Walker

Solo Exhibitions

2009 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
2007 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
2005 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
2003 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
2003 Hamilton-Selway Fine Arts, Los Angeles
2001 Hamilton-Selway Fine Arts, Los Angeles
2001 Galerie Saint-Dizier, Montréal
2000 “…A Thousand Words,”
    Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
1998 Hamilton-Selway Fine Arts, Los Angeles
1997 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
1997 Stanley Papel Fine Arts, Los Angeles
1996 Gingerbread Square Gallery, Key West
1995 Galerie Christin, Toronto
1994 “Some Men's Lives,” Cogswell Gallery, Philadelphia
1994 “Lovers, Friends & Other Strangers,” Hal Bromm Gallery , New York
1993 “Based on a True Story,” Toronto
1993 “The Paintings of Steve Walker,” Alumnae Theatre, Toronto
1993 Gallery J.J., Toronto

Group Exhibitions

2002 1st International Salon of Contemporary Artists, Lisbon , Portugal
1996 Hollis Arts Society, Hollis , NH
1995 “A Perfect World,” Hollis Arts Society, Hollis , NH
1995 Leslie-Lohman Art Foundation, New York

1994 Galerie Christin, Toronto
1994 The Fanatic, Hollis Arts Society, Hollis , NH
1992 “Curator's Choice,” Gallery Without Walls, Toronto
1992 “Genitive Forum,” Beaver Hall Gallery, Toronto
1992 “Pretty in Funk,” Gallery Without Walls, Toronto
1992 “In My Secret Garden ,” Gallery Without Walls, Toronto
1991 “No Particular Civilization,” Toronto
1991 “Sex and Identity,” Artefact Gallery, Toronto
1990 “Redressing the Nude,” The X-Tra Space, Toronto
1990 “Raw Fantasies,” Artefact Gallery, Toronto

Available Paintings

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