Sunday, June 03, 2012
A Day in the Life of an Industry Expert: Nathan Walsh
Posted by Maxine Harris
Name: Nathan Walsh
Exhibitions: Metro Gallery (Australia) Albemarle Gallery (London), Korean International Art Fair (Seoul, South Korea)
On first entering Nathan Walsh’s website, I assumed that I was looking at a photography portfolio. However, as the home page’s slideshow went on, it became apparent that these huge works were not the work of a camera, but of paint. Nathan has exhibited all over the world, from London, England to Australia to Korea. His work has been seen by a plethora of audiences, cultures and societies, all of which must have been in awe at the sight of Nathan’s magnificent paintings.
Nathan describes himself as a ‘postmodern realist’ stating that the aim for his work is for ‘it to be as convincing as possible, but this is on its own terms. Whilst online or in print the work may seem photographic in appearance [but] the actual nature of the more recent paintings is very different. Furthermore the paintings may well resemble an actual place or location that exists in reality. However the paintings obey their own logic which is independent of documentary photography and reality. For example all pictorial elements are constructed using a fairly open ended use of known
perspectival laws. This allows me to take ownership of the painting and how I describe the world around me. How I employ these laws often changes from painting to painting dependent on what I’m trying to achieve. After the drawing stage is complete I build layers of oil paint up, again to explore and establish form.’
A very structured artist, Nathan’s methodical approach to his art could be said to represent the systematic, structured construction of the buildings he paints. This is a rundown of Nathan’s typical working day: ‘I leave the house at 7am and arrive at the studio for 7.30. After cleaning my palette from the day before I start painting at 8 o’clock. I’ll work through till 12, go and have lunch then return for 1. I’ll normally work till 6pm but the afternoon painting session always seems tougher than the morning’. Nathan explains, ‘This daily ritual is crucial for the work to progress in any
reasonable fashion. I’ll usually take one day off a week for ‘normal’ life but this is often spent doing very little. Painting full time is rarely a physical job but a long day of concentration often leaves you exhausted. There are many potential distractions but in time you learn to ignore them and focus on the ever present problems of painting’.
One of these problems of painting, Nathan explains, is its requirement for individual focus. ‘Painting as a serious activity is, by its nature, solitary and often anti-social. This can be tough both on the painter and those around him. However it has to be this way for anything of worth to be produced.’
On a lighter note, Nathan describes the best part of being a professional painter as being able ‘to devote my life to something that I love doing. I understand that I’m in a very privileged position to be able to do what I want with my time, but this is a position I’ve had to work very hard for over the years’.
Asked how he decided to make painting a career choice, Nathan responded ‘I believe some people are born with a desire to respond to their environment by making things. This might be a piece of furniture or jet engine, but the initial impulse is the same. I’m not sure I ever made a conscious decision to try and become a full time artist, but I certainly had a desire to develop and improve the paintings I was drawn to make’.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
‘My advice is probably clichéd but it’s vital to keep making work and not get distracted into other activities. Most people give up at some point, normally within a couple of years of leaving art college, if it was easy then there’d be a lot more people doing it. My other advice would be not to expect anybody to do anything for you, the onus is on you to realise opportunities’.