Gordon Walters became ‘infamous’ for his koru paintings. Let’s just get that out of the way. His name became synonymous with appropriation: the koru symbol appropriated from Māori, for personal gain and fame.
These images are everywhere.
Less well-known are his other images.
I was lucky enough to have a book loaned to me: Francis Pound’s walters: en abyme published by The Gus Fisher Gallery.
It’s a beautifully published little book: the cover is a satisfying beige fabric, the paper a thick white, the font a neat serif and the plates beautifully printed. Unfortunately I can’t find the details in the book. It’s a small size – a kind of a6 which fits neatly into your hand. An introduction is by Leonard Bell, and seven wonderfully articulate, erudite chapters by Pound.
Pound talks about Walter’s exploration of the abyss, the mirror and the image within the image. “We might speak, then, of Walter’s painting en abyme as a painting that self-reflection raises to the second power, a painting that leans into the abyss of a bottomless duplication” (p.33).
Walter’s paintings, says Pound, work at the level of metadepictivity where depiction depicts itself depicting. He also alerts us to the myth of Echo and Narcissus where Echo’s voice is all that is left when Narcissus denies her.
If you study the images you see all of this: an echo of an image, the small image within the large and the endless search for self-reflection
Read the book. You’ll find it enlightening, entrancing and like me you’ll love the plates of Walter’s work: clever, intelligent and intriguing.
Love. Love. Love it. You can buy it for $NZ17.50.