2 More

Ward Round I

Ward Round I
signed, titled and dated '"WARD ROUND I" Caroline Walker 2012' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
82 5⁄8 x 90 5⁄8in. (210 x 230.2cm.)
Painted in 2012
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2015.
E. Spicer, 'Caroline Walker: 'Who we perceive to be the maker of an image affects how we consume it'', in Studio International, 2017 (digital).
Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum, Nightfall / New Tendencies in Figurative Painting, 2013, p. 121 (illustrated in colour, p. 105).
London, Pitzhanger Manor, In Every Dream Home, 2013.
Ostrava, Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava, Disruptive Imagination: Making Windows Where There Were Once Walls, 2017.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 2012, at a pivotal moment in Caroline Walker’s early career, Ward Round I is a powerful and enigmatic work that sets the stage for her interrogation of the female gaze. It depicts two women asleep on a bed in alternate states of undress, their forms illuminated by a bright white strip light above. Artworks adorn the walls; a dark curtain drapes softly in the background. The face of the woman in the foreground fades into total darkness. Behind, her companion’s identity is only partially more visible. In a rare piece of self-exposure, the latter is modelled on Walker herself. The work was included in the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition In Every Dream Home at Pitzhanger Manor, London in 2013, and is staged in a converted gas station that would later become the Kleine Grosz Museum in Berlin. It simmers with psycho-sexual tension, casting the viewer as voyeur. With the shadows of painting’s history looming above her, Walker meets our gaze, asking us to consider the role of women as both subjects and makers of art.

In Every Dream Home established the fundamental principles of Walker’s practice. Much of the series depicted anonymous female figures going about their daily lives in an idyllic modernist home and garden. Wrought with exquisite attention to lighting, form, colour and composition, her protagonists seemed trapped in a world of secrets, their picture-perfect lives filled with ambiguity and suspense. Titled after the 1973 Roxy Music song ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache’, the series set out to confront the expectations society places upon women, offering scenes of quotidian domesticity in which nothing is quite as it seems. Ward Round I transposes these ideas to a different setting. The work continues the artist’s fascination with modernist architecture: the gallerist Juerg Judin had converted the space into a studio building that won an architectural award in 2009. Further artworks are revealed in the work’s companion Ward Round II, including a painting by Jannis Kounellis and another by Grosz himself. While photographing the scene, Walker said that the room reminded her of a ‘high-end psychiatric institution’, its clinical lines offsetting her uncertain narrative drama (C. Walker, quoted in E. Spicer, ‘Caroline Walker: “Who we perceive to be the maker of an image affects how we consume it”’, Studio International, 10 April 2017).

Walker’s works are not portraits in the conventional sense. Instead, her subjects play out stories and ideas that relate to universal female experience. ‘I paint women because in some ways I am always painting myself, and my own experiences or anxieties,’ she explains, ‘but from a distanced objective position which can hopefully also reflect how we all encounter the world’ (C. Walker, quoted in D. Woodward, ‘Caroline Walker: In Every Dream Home’, AnOther Magazine, 19 July 2013). Walker’s own appearance in the present work is particularly illuminating in this regard: so, too, is her frequent use of doubling, reflection and repetition. Drawing upon a rich history of depictions of women—largely painted by men—Walker asks whether ‘the knowledge that something has been painted by a woman might change the way you feel about what you are looking at, or challenge your assumptions about a relationship between artist and model’ (C. Walker, ibid.). The present work’s sexual provocations are, in this sense, deliberate: Walker instils a sense of power play between viewer and subject, only to subvert and upend it through her own presence.

More from 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All