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The Inverted Line

by George A. Walker

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canadian, non-classifiable
list price: $15.95
category: Art
published: 2000
publisher: Porcupine's Quill

'George A Walker did not make it into An Engraver's Globe, and looking through this collection of his wood engravings I see again exactly why. An editor should not present as a fool one who has persisted in his folly to become wise if the wisdom cannot really be shown in the space available: better to omit than risk making him look silly. On the evidence of just a couple of works George Walker does look clumsy in a field where finesse is prized, perhaps to excess. But give him his head, as here, and you see an artist of sustained and wacky integrity half way between Posada and Krazy Kat. ...

'Is the work any good? Yes, of course it is. Of course, too, if you go for rough trade in wood engraving, you end where you began: some of this does look like beginner's work. But Walker does things with engraving I've not seen anyone else do: look at Raguwl, Angel of Vengeance. His images of people in cars are startlingly expressive: he can draw -- look at The Printer's hand and the break of light around him; has Walker bodged the ear here to prove he can't draw (so there!)? But he can and does. His small images have power and sometimes even humour and tenderness, even though he presents himself as an obsessive, the Mad Hatter of wood engraving.'

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Editorial Reviews

'Why this cultured man who values history and says ''the best training ... is to be had by looking at the work of other artists'' does not bring this sensitivity to extending his own art, but is content to remain in a Looney Tunes world, remains one of life's smaller mysteries. The world of wood engraving is undoubtedly extended by the presence within it of such a serious, self-defined, if self-limiting, clown; and this collection which shows a sufficient range of his work to let you see what he is about is very welcome.'

— Multiples

'There's not a lot of text in this book: commentary on each of the 70+ featured images, plus a little about Walker's life and manner of working. That helps explain why his work is so little-known. Much of it has gone into handcrafted books of which only one or two hundred were ever printed, and into collections that rarely circulate outside the printmaking community. Even though the uniqueness of each impression is lost in reproducing the works for a wider audience, I'm very glad that he has made it available in this lovely edition. It's fascinating work, sure to be welcome in any library on prints and printmaking.'

— amazon.com

'The greatest compliment I can pay it is, there is not a dull spot in the book. He can present us with humour without a hint of them being cartoons. I think he must have fun doing these prints. It is a good example of drawing straight to the point, and not fussing with a lot of extra stuff. These drawings wiggle and dance in space. They are small in scale, but each is huge in heart. They look like they are chiseled out of rock. I've had this book laying around, and when a visitor picks it up, I hear exclamations of surprise and awe.'

— Block & Burin

'George Walker is one of the most unusual wood engravers in the country, and works in a distinctly contemporary idiom. Using a dentist's drill, he routs out deep grooves which create bold graphic white lines, providing a brilliant black-white contrast.'

— Glenbow Museum

'This is a lively book by a very lively artist and wood engraver.'

— Pica

'Walker's engravings are distanced from the twentieth-century English tradition exemplified by Gill and Gillings: for example, he often uses a dentist's drill to rout out deep grooves. This is not an inconsequential labour-saving technique: it gives the images more of a folk-art feel and dramatizes his symbolic and often surreal compositions.'

— Parenthesis
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About the Author

George A. Walker

George A. Walker

George A. Walker is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and author whose courses in book arts and printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor, have been offered continuously since 1985. His artworks are held in collections ranging from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City and he has had over 15 solo exhibitions as well as been included in more than 100 group shows. Among many book projects-both trade and limited edition-Walker has illustrated 2 hand-printed books by internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman. Walker also illustrated the first Canadian edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, both published by the Cheshire Cat Press. The Cheshire Cat Press is a partnership between Andy Malcolm and George Walker which continues to publish limited edition books featuring the writing of Lewis Carroll.

George Walker was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002 for his contribution to the cultural area of Book Arts. He is also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto where he was featured in a solo exhibition of his books and printmaking in the spring of 2019. Walker's latest book-length project presents the iconic life of Hollywood silent-film star Mary Pickford in a suite of 87 wood engravings.

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