At the time of fashionable postmodernism and neo-Conceptualism, Walker Buckner’s work comes as something of a shock, though a tonic one. The artist is an academic realist with a very limited repertoire—but one that is enlivened and given strength by the careful, watchful eye he brings to his views of moored sailboats, wooden lawn chairs in brilliant sunlight, and a human figure or two.
The lawn chairs lay neatly in grass and bushes so intensely lighted by the sun as to appear in tones ranging from russets to oranges to olive greens. In Buckner’s favored setup—the moored sailboat—the artist works the same off-kilter magic with color. He also gets a lot of mileage out of the simple beauties of the reflected boats using only a few daubs of yellows and greens to illuminate the gray water. In some of these pieces, Buckner seems to toy with representation that borders on abstraction.
The highlight of the show was Buckner’s figure of a young African-American boy in a V-neck gray tunic. His impassive face is painted with daubs of green, vermilion, and tawny yellow.
No social commentary was implied here; Buckner is his own man—stylistically retrograde, but artistically sure and staunch.
By Gerritt Henry