Explosions of Colour: Nick Walker's Vandal Takes Center Stage
Numerous public artworks live within and around the architecture of Downtown Markham. Flush with vibrant expressions of colour, geometric outlines, and energetic illustrations, these artworks give Markham an electric and exciting artistic spirit. Nick Walker’s hand-painted work, Polychromatic Beams, is a magnet in the collection. The work was passionately and painstakingly created, and Walker projected the central figure onto the installation wall when creating the work to ensure precision.
Walker’s graffiti and mural work is known internationally for its illustrious style and distinctive character. In bringing his iconic street-art to Downtown Markham, Walker re-envisions yet another interpretation of his prolific and mischievous character, Vandal–– a faceless man perpetually clothed in sharp attire. Vandal’s signature dress of a pinstripe suit and boulder-style top hat complement his easy-going demeanour. Throughout the world, his portrait can be found on the walls and facades of infrastructure in sundry cities. Vandal is often caught in the act of painting the world red; images of him depict his delinquent yet political nature as he “vandalizes” (or embellishes) the streets.
In Downtown Markham, the Vandal provocateur takes on a less frolicsome image. Instead, he faces a viewer straight on and emanates an intense, colourful energy. Polychromatic Beams is located in The Origin’s Cineplex Cinema (169 Enterprise Blvd) of Downtown Markham. Prior to stepping into the dark and shadowy atmosphere of a Cineplex theatre, movie-goers are greeted by Vandal’s glaring radiation. Vandal is not a small figure, placed higher than the viewer, dominating the clean lines and completely white hallway in which he resides. The image itself is brightly lit by surrounding overhead lighting, making Vandal’s dark and semi-monochromatic form simply a vessel for the outburst of vibrancy.
Regardless of his indiscernible facial identity, Vandal’s expression in Polychromatic Beams is lucid: holding the lapels of his jacket open, Vandal appears to holler from his chest as wavelengths of coloured light pulsate and beam out from his breast. The painting, Polychromatic Beams, is as large as a wall, and invites viewers to catch sight of a transformation. The painting’s location next to the movie theatre enhances its meaning with such a unique context, catching viewers as they enter and exit the fabricated worlds of cinema. The modern movie theatre experience pushes the viewer into a new cinematic world, and Vandal’s expulsion of colour mimics this imposition and transmission of creative energies. The colourful light that beams from Vandal’s chest can also be interpreted as shift in energy, expression, or even self-power. Polychromatic Beams is a blaze in Downtown Markham that inspires individuals to release the energy, colour, and light that exists within themselves, perfect for this center of innovation.
British artist Nick Walker has formatively contributed to the movement of contemporary graffiti and street-based art and is quoted to have “given birth” to the Bristol, United Kingdom graffiti style that is recognized around the world. Although Walker originates from Bristol, he is currently based in New York City. As a constant traveller, Walker has created works internationally, and examples of his street art can be found in cities such as New York, Dubai, Tokyo, and Toronto.
Walker’s practice is renowned and respected, best known for the nature of his illustrative stencils and free-hand designs that often depict human figures in ironic, humorous, and dimensional situations. His recognized figure, Vandal, appears frequently throughout in his oeuvre–– a character who “disguises himself as a quintessential English gentleman,” adorned in a bolder hat and pinstripe suit, “in order to get away with artistic vandalism.” Extending beyond industries of street and mural-based art, Walker’s professional practice has received accolade by music, film, and commercial art industries. In the late 1990s, he was commissioned to develop film sets for Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 film, Eyes Wide Shut. His work also appears in the music video for The Black Eyed Peas 2009 hit, I’ve Got a Feeling.
Similar to his contemporaries, Walker’s practice has made headway in the gallery and auction industry. Through time, he has built an extensive collection of paintings, works on paper, and printed multiples. His work has been up for auction and subsequently sold by influential institutions such as Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers. Creating images–– large, small, and everything between–– with distinct aura across the globe has accelerated Walker’s reach and respective audience. In 2018, Albany Center Gallery and the Albany Parking Authority commissioned Walker to paint a 40 by 60 feet mural on the Green-Hudson parking garage as part of the Albany New York Capital Walls public art initiative.
For more information on Nick Walker visit http://www.theartofnickwalker.com/