About the artist & work:
Stephen Walling demonstrates a trained eye with wall relief sculptures of colorfully painted wood strips and blocks, intricately carved and composed into graphic arrangements. After a long career as an award winning art director at Conde Nast Publications, approaching such a tactile material came naturally to an artist with experience in handmade furniture and design. A look inside Walling’s creative lair reveals piles of sawdust that blanket the floor while towers of mixed paint containers find their home next to scraps of wood destined for a new piece. The traces of his artistic process suggest there is rarely a dull moment in this workshop.
Although Walling’s sculptures are crafted around a dedication to color and shape, his newest body of works reveals a shift in inspiration and evolution in studio process. In earlier work, the artist took his cues from nature; representational forms based on the shapes of trees, slopes of the Catskill mountains and even aerial views were most prevalent. He also experimented with photo-collage, pasting images of back lit forests on varying heights of wood. More recently, Walling has found increasing comfort in the possibilities of abstraction. Walling now follows a kind of ‘mind-map’, influenced by almost anything and everything, when creating a new sculpture. The premeditated image leads Walling to the selection of all colors, shapes, and arrangements. Recent work demonstrates a fascination with light and shadow. Individual pieces of intricately carved wood unite to create various shadows that work to create a dazzling optical illusion. Ranging depths of wood are often enhanced with color painted on different sides of each block. This hint of color encourages the viewer’s eye to travel throughout Walling’s surfaces as perspective reveals transitions in palette and shadow.