Opening reception: November 14, 2009, 5-7pm
Deconstructing Jerry #39 (detail), 2009
Acrylic and masking tape on canvas
12" x 12"
Three years ago, a diagnosis of cancer provided artist Jerry Walden the impetus for reflection. Looking back over his career, he felt much of his work was no longer visually valid. To reenergize both himself and his work, he began blocking out parts of his original paintings, covering some parts, leaving others to show through. In Deconstructing Jerry #40 (pictured at right), for example, the artist took his 1971 painting, Hi-way Drive-in, rotated it and painted over some of the original colors. By combining parts of his work that he finds valid with new layers of paint, he creates reinvigorated patchworks that have a life of their own.
This process of painting out has allowed Jerry to re- engage pure formalism. By working abstractly, Walden has the freedom to explore a straightforward visual idea, Deconstructing Jerry #40, 1971- 2009 unencumbered by references to our lived experience and 38"h x 58"w all of its attendant baggage. For Walden, this is a purity of search: a way of crossing out reference to anything outside the work and realizing a valid visual idea that is about painting, nothing more and nothing less.
This transformation of old work in to new work is the basis of Walden’s first exhibition with Robert Henry Contemporary. However, this exhibition will also include entirely new paintings made with the same process but on fresh canvas or paper (Reconstructing Deconstructing Jerry #45, pictured at left). Jerry begins each painting by randomly taping off areas with blue painters tape or cream-colored masking tape and filling in the space with paint. As he uses this tape over and over again filling the painting with stripes this tape collects layers of previously painted color. Eventually the paint encrusted tape is left in place and actually becomes part of the painting. The process of painting out his old work, begun three years ago, rejuvenated Mr. Walden's purpose. Freed from the constraints of work and children Mr. Walden says, “ I am finally doing what I should have done 30 years ago.”
In over 30 years of studio practice Jerry Walden’s work has been exhibited across the US and around the world. His work is in numerous public and private collections. He earned his BFA from Auburn University, Auburn, AL, in 1968, and his MFA from the Univ. of Georgia in 1971. He lives and works in Rock Hill, SC.