Artist: Nick Walker [Image Source: The Kagency]
Do you think the British graffiti art scene is basically about Banksy, and then the rest? Think again. Indeed, the whole Bristol underground scene from which the latter originated might not have been quite as strong without the presence of Nick Walker.
Born in 1969, Nick emerged from the infamous and groundbreaking Bristol graffiti scene of the early 1980s. As a forerunner of the British graffiti phenomenon, Nick’s work has become a blueprint for hundreds of emerging artists. His work is constantly evolving and remains innovative, modern and thought-provoking.
Nick mastered his art using the freedom of spray cans with the addition of very controlled and intricate stencilling. He also likes to add an element of humour or irony to some paintings and to add a little light relief to the walls.
One of Nick's signature images is that of a gentleman in a bowler hat, aka The Vandal. In the words of the artist:
"I first came up with The Vandal concept back in 2005. I was walking through London and I saw one of those massive golfing umbrellas on the ground. On second glance I saw that there was someone underneath it lighting up a pipe. This is how the Vandal Triptych print came about, it stuck in my head and it got me thinking that umbrellas act as the perfect smoke screen for pretty much anything, especially graffiti. The second decoy is the outfit, someone dressed as a quintessential Englishman donning a bowler hat is not the kind of person you would expect to be doing graffiti.”
The Vandal, Bedford Avenue and South 3rd Street, Brooklyn NY, 2008
Vandal Triptych, 2010
The Vandal came to life in a painting called 'The Morning After', a painting that depicted the artist after a night, 'painting the town red', observing the city behind him with the satisfaction of a job well done. The concept of 'The Morning After' happened in cities across the world, from London to Agra to Paris, and The Vandal went on to feature in a Black Eyed Peas video.
The Morning After: Bristol, 2007
"Having heard the term 'paint the town red' The Vandal decided he has one mission, take it to the extreme and paint in every colour imaginable, not just the town - the world!”
Nick has been known to tackle political themes in his artwork as well. His famous Le Corancan (2009) in Paris featured veiled women lifting their skirts to reveal stockings whilst they danced the cancan. It was a commentary on President Sarkozy's plan to ban the burqa in France.
Le Corancan, Quai De Valmy in central Paris, 2009
📸 Lights, Camera, Action 🎬: The Making of Le Corancan
Source: Daily Motion
Le Corancan, 2010
Sellout shows in LA and London in 2008 saw collectors lining up for more than a day to be the first to get their hands on Walker's latest print edition. The rest, as they say, is history.
"Painting is a form of escapism for me and if my work allows the spectator to do the same thing, then I've achieved more than I set out to do." ~ Nick Walker