Paper Trail - MG Walker and Ellen Johansen

Posted by Fiona Cable on

Collaborative paintings – Ellen Johansen and MG Walker – Coffee Series

What happens when two masterfully talented artists collaborate? Could they create something new together, something different, something brilliant? The resounding answer is yes! This is Ellen Johansen and MG Walkers’ second such venture and these wonderfully unique creations are the result of their artistic partnership.

Their working process goes like this: Ellen Johansen usually paints her gestural colour-field first, and then MG Walker enters the scene with his insightful imagery. Sometimes the work passes back and forth again, until they both agree it’s a finished piece.


The seductive qualities of Johansens’ richly tinted backgrounds draw us in. These paintings are deeply alluring. Only when we are up close do we start to absorb narratives that might allude to darker subjects. On close inspection we start to take in the details; stealthy comments about society, its pleasures as well as its injustices and flaws. Walker is a great raconteur of life, coaxing us in with wit, sentiment and nostalgia. Walker and Ellen tackle subjects that are universally human: identity, gender, social status, sexuality, religion. There are autobiographical references too, their subconscious surfacing unwittingly. Walkers’ inked brush continuously travels across the colour-field backgrounds, utilising and playing with the idea of using ancient allegorical art to elevate the commonplace dramas of more modern day encounters.

The linear elegance of Walkers’ drawings coalesce with the Ellens’ fluid, moving surfaces. Both artists are making work about the things they care about, possessing an emotional charge that draws us in to the subject.

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