About the Artist

§ One Response to About the Artist

  • Leon Waller says:

    I was born in 1949 in King William county Virginia. I graduated college from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a Bachelor in Education. My primary interest was art and museum education. I have worked as an educator, at the Valentine Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond Virginia, and for the Museum for African Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. I have been an Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, and I am Adjunct Instructor at, the New School, Parsons School of Design, where I teach art history. I am a writer and visual artist. My paintings are own by two museums in Manhattan, the Grey Art Gallery and the Studio Museum in Harlem. They are own by several public institutions. and many more are own by private individuals.

    The following was written by an art critic regarding my art:
    HIS ART
    Because Leon Waller has explored the dimensions of his visual talents only during the past several years, it would seem improbable that his work would have developed such a clear sense of identity, that is to say, style, in so short a time. Yet, all of the works presented in this show demonstrate his awareness of purpose with startling consistency, and it’s even more to his credit that his “purpose” has so much substance.
    : Spiritual self-awareness is the phrase that best describes Waller’s work. His figures, even in the earlier pieces, stand in carefully controlled, arranged environments. This careful use of space is evident even in the drawings, where Waller seems to attach as much compositional significance to the blank space behind the figures as to the figures themselves. Despite the disciplined interaction between figures and the surrounding composition, they seem detached from the settings that surround them. They are involved, instead, in deep self-contemplation, of such intensity that it approaches
    •prayer.
    Detachment is apparent in each piece, but even more so in the group works. Compositionally, tremendous tension exists between the interacting forms, one that contrasts sharply with their dramatic non-involvement. The figures think, act, they even touch, but not together. The expressions on their faces, sometimes pained, sometimes reflective, are not directed towards other elements in the composition. They are directed at us, the viewers.
    If the sensibility of Byzantine icon’s
    pervades Waller’s work, it is precisely for this reason – the interactions between the viewer and the work of art itself. The essence of Byzantine, icons is their emotive quality. We empathize with their spiritual piety, and reach a state of grace through our empathy. Waller’s work demands from us a similar involvement.
    Waller’s technique enhances the carefully controlled discipline of his composition. He uses shading and the development of volume sparingly, accenting only the most important, expressive parts of his works. His handling of drapery is precise and beautifully detailed, yet its importance in defining the figures anatomically is subordinate to its purpose of expressing, even exploiting the emotive qualities of the works

    Particularly in his batiks, he uses intricate decoration, somewhat reminiscent of Native American (Northwest Coast) art. Like their stylistic sources, these remarkably complex decorations never overpower, but merely enhance the feeling of special intimacy between the viewer and the art. To say that these decorations are controlled by the lines that surround
    them is not enough. Rather than being an end in themselves, they serve as tools to help develop the empathetic qualities of each work.

    All of these qualities add up to an art style that is both powerful and, almost incidentally, quite beautiful. If Waller’s purpose is to develop a deep sense of interaction between the images he evokes and our own strivings for internal grace, he has achieved it.
    Martin Sumner

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