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The Atomic Child series stages Walsh’s flair for placing opposing elements in tension. Representation vies with abstraction and Neo-Pop with Twombly-esque mark- making. These are documents of the organic colliding against the synthetic, the expressive rendered against the static, and the disquiet that blooms into cacophony. Using his own children as subjects, Walsh delves into thematic questions of innocence versus experience and nature versus mankind.

Dystopian realities of global warming and the dangers of nuclear power underpin the pictures, playing off the human elements. Most of all, they seem to be sort of psychic maps that plot private parental fears over public concerns of pollution. A dialogue, often on the cusp of open war, appears to be taking place between the pencil markings of nature and the collaged culture that threatens to usurp her. Walsh gives voice to both sides however; channelling his paint here into raindrops, there into industrial waste. The spectral, explorative marks of the artist’s pencil, are obscured by appropriated media that are themselves erased into the paper. There’s a strange equivalence between foreground and background—with the ephemerality of the pencil lines on the brink of disappearing altogether, whilst the permanence of paint and collaged elements dominate. A hierarchy of consciousness of things is taking place, with a mediated neurosis front and centre. The paper serves as a mental frame for these perceptions, a field on which a balletic turmoil of creation and destruction fuses into testament. It would be wrong to presume Walsh’s allegiances; to reduce the work to a simple ecological didacticism. For the Atomic Child series dramatizes the vulnerability, not just of his human subjects but also of art itself. There is a subliminal self-reflexivity at play here. An implicit questioning of the role of art with the doomsday clock at three minutes to midnight. The pencil marks that remain may be subtle but the lines are lyrical and strong, and the draughtsmanship is sure. In these investigative drawings and paintings a world of toxic certainties is interrogated and stripped bare.

 

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