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Recreation Pavilion

Recreation Pavilion
signed, titled and dated ''RECREATION PAVILION' Caroline Walker 2013' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
110 1/8 x 74 3/4in. (279.6 x 190cm.)
Painted in 2013
ProjectB Gallery, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
M. Livingstone, J. Neal and M. Price, Caroline Walker: In Every Dream Home, Wakefield 2013 (illustrated in colour, p. 39; detail illustrated in colour, p. 38).
D. Woodward, ‘Caroline Walker: In Every Dream Home’, in AnOther Magazine, 19 July 2013 (illustrated in colour).
M. Sperling, ‘Enigmas: Caroline Walker’s lithographs and paintings’, in Apollo Magazine, 15 August 2014.
M. Valli and M. Dessanay, A Brush with the Real: Figurative Painting Today, London 2014, p. 230 (illustrated in colour, p. 231).
London, Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, In Every Dream Home, 2013.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Interim Head of Department

Lot Essay

Included in Caroline Walker’s seminal exhibition In Every Dream Home at Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, the present work is an extraordinary large-scale painting from the series of the same name. Spanning almost three metres in height, it depicts two women sunbathing by a swimming pool, their faces concealed beneath their wide-brimmed hats. Multiple windows reflect the sparkling blue waters, while a shadowy figure observes the spectacle from the upper floor of the house. Taking its title from the 1973 Roxy Music song ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache’, the exhibition marked Walker’s solo institutional debut, and propelled her to public acclaim. The paintings, set in and around an idyllic property, offered disquieting snapshots of seemingly picture-perfect lives. Featuring a recurring cast of anonymous, bikini-clad women, the series cemented the subtle interrogation of female roles that would go on to define Walker’s practice. Shrouded in cinematic suspense and psychological ambiguity, Recreation Pavilion captures the virtuosic ambition of her early oeuvre: voyeurism, aspiration and seduction combine in a scene of crystalline poise, saturated with formal and narrative tension.

Fascinated by the unseen lives of women, Walker uses props, lighting and deft spatial manipulation to draw us into her subjects’ interior worlds. In Every Dream Home marked the early flourishing of these techniques, exploiting the sharp lines of Modernist architecture and the distortive properties of water and glass. ‘I’d been exploring the notion of the “Grand Design” house and became interested in the idea of dream homes, and what might go on in them’, she explained (C. Walker, quoted in D. Woodward, ‘Caroline Walker: In Every Dream Home’, AnOther Magazine, 19 July 2013). The setting for the series, where Walker conducted photoshoots in preparation, was deliberately intended to be ambiguous: many scenes, including the present, are captured from different angles throughout. ‘We could be looking at a villa in Dubai, LA, Buenos Aires or just a back garden in London’, she explains (C. Walker, quoted in Caroline Walker: In Every Dream Home, Wakefield 2013, p. 31). Here, Walker’s staging disorients the viewer further, offsetting lush figuration with near-abstract geometries. Doublings, shadows and reflections confound our gaze, ensnaring us in a world of enigma and dreamlike illusion.

Roxy Music’s song spoke of the difference between public and private realities. In Walker’s silent paradise, similarly, nothing is quite as it seems. Woven into her dramas are oblique references to other worlds: from the swimming pool paintings of David Hockney, to Edward Hopper’s lonely landscapes and Eric Fischl’s painting of American suburbia. Cinema, too, was an important source of inspiration—Recreation Pavilion contains more than a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), with Walker also citing the Neo-Modernist house in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe (2009) as a key influence. The bowl of oranges on the empty table, meanwhile, represents something of a leitmotif for the artist. Jane Neal notes the fruit’s symbolic overtones of chastity, love and temptation in Renaissance painting; here, such associations work in counterpoint with the scene’s near-erotic friction (J. Neal, ibid., p. 13). Is there a power play between the three women? Or are there other unseen people or forces at work? As blissful fantasy and sinister uncertainty shift in and out of focus, we begin to question whether the voyeur at the window is simply a reflection of ourselves.

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