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THE ART GALLERIES

Venice

February 20, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Like all good logo painters, British artist John Walker employs a recurrent image. It's a vertical rectangle with a triangular projection at the lower right that can be interpreted as a sort of door into space or as a monolith in a strange environment. He also paints a "shield" shape, some loopy hieroglyphics he calls "ferrars" and a few "hooks" that resemble rhino horns. Except for a human skull in one painting, none of his imagery seems to have specific meaning, though it presents plenty of opportunity for speculation. Walker simply uses these forms as devices to get on with his art. Fair enough, for he happens to be a very good painter who merges a formalist approach with a romantic sensibility.

Working with thick, richly textured, layered pigment in a predominantly red-orange and gray palette, he may float the portal/monolith in dark space, give it a fiery halo or juxtapose it with other objects. The form itself may contain streaks of intense light, suggestions of landscape or it may turn into an ornate boot or a gravestone. But the viewer soon stops seeing these events and simply absorbs the painting. At that point, it becomes clear that Walker has too much range to be considered a logo painter. (L.A. Louver, 77 Market St., to March 7.)

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