Ella Walker

Present Tense

27 January – 28 April 2024


About the Artist

Ella Walker’s monumental and yet evanescent canvases revisit the European medieval and Renaissance frescoes tradition, introducing the presence of women who defiantly challenge conventional representations of feminine in the arts and gently refuse to conform to the viewers’ expectations. There is something slightly disturbing and uncanny in the posture, appearances, and actions of the women that animate Walker’s images. Her paintings instantly evoke the crisp and almost surreal luminosity of Italian master Piero della Francesca, and the clarity of the revolutionary proto-Renaissance painter Giotto.

Within the intersection of medieval and contemporary spaces, Walker moves freely, interchanging histories with invented scenes that are both referential and dream-like. By creating imagery that merges art history iconography from the Trecento and Renaissance periods, theatrical sets and stock characters from Commedia dell’Arte, contemporary ballet, and costume design inspired by 1960s cinema and fashion magazines, Walker translates ritual into innovation, refitting old narratives into contemporary plots of unfolding tragedy, comedy, and love.

Walker’s solo exhibitions include: ‘Chorus,’ Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (2023); ‘Distant Conversations: Ella Walker and Betty Woodman,’ Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH (2023); and ‘Theatre of Virtues and Vices,’ Casey Kaplan, New York NY (2022). Selected group exhibitions include: ‘Where the threads are worn,’ Casey Kaplan, New York NY (2021); ‘Fertile Laziness,’ Platform Southwark, London, UK (2021); ‘Bathing nervous limbs,’ Edinburgh Art Festival, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, UK (2021); and ‘The Strife of Love in a Dream,’ Frieze London, London, UK (2021).

She earned her bachelor’s degree in painting and printmaking from the Glasgow School of Art in 2015. In 2018, Walker completed the Drawing Year Postgraduate Program at the Royal Drawing School in London. She lives and works in London, UK.

On View in Somerset

‘Present Tense’ is on view through 28 April 2024.