As the world progresses relentlessly into the future, constantly striving for the bigger and better, Conor Walton uses paint to remind us all of the fragility of our world.
On display through December 7 at the outstanding CK Contemporary is a fascinating solo exhibition of paintings by Conor Walton, a man whose artistic mission is to cultivate a broader perspective among his viewership. A self-described “enemy of progress” — alluded to in the title of the show — Walton views culture as simply a “façade,” a modern ruse that distracts the masses from the larger, more natural forces that may ultimately shape our destiny.
Relying on nature for his representational works, Walton’s concept eagerly comes to the fore in the aptly titled “The Enemies of Progress,” which displays a diverse arrangement of extinct species, old gods, and more. The gallery writes, “The assembled figures stand for all those whose beliefs, values, and ways of life are threatened with obsolescence; those whose very existence is undermined by the ‘March of Progress.’ They are preparing to attack a gleaming but generic cluster of architectural forms, a blank, featureless utopia that resembles a modern city skyline. ‘The Enemies of Progress’ is a principled, courageous, and darkly comical painting. As in all of Walton’s work, the strain of humor is extremely pointed: it is a serious humor infused with tragedy.”

Conor Walton, “The Enemies of Progress,” oil on linen, 24 x 48 in. (c) CK Contemporary 2015

However relevant Walton’s concept may be, the messages are communicated with extreme beauty. “Phaethon” is a gorgeous painting displaying an adolescent boy waist-deep in water. The subject holds his left arm out, displaying for the viewer a fish attached to a line. Along the horizon, a large architectural form rises from the haze, its peak brightly illuminated. The naturalism and luminance are absolutely stunning.
Whether through the works’ profound beauty, weighty message, or both, the exhibition is sure to delight viewers over the next few weeks. “The Enemies of Progress” will be on view at CK Contemporary in San Francisco, California, through December 7.
To learn more, visit CK Contemporary.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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