New York, NY, (April 13, 2023) – Howl! Happening is pleased to present Walter Steding: This Is My Voice, a solo show of portraits and allegorical paintings by Lower East Side actor, writer, filmmaker, musician, and painter Walter Steding. The show will be on view from April 27 through June 4.
Best known for his prolific presence as a violinist in the No Wave scene of the 70s and for his work as Andy Warhol’s painting assistant, Steding has long used formal painting and music to portray unseen worlds beneath physical realities. Painting mainly portraiture and still life, he both imbues an intense gaze on his subjects and displays a willingness to break from strict realism, thus representing the middle state between one’s publicly projected mask and the aura of true identity it conceals.
In an interview with Brainard Carey on Yale’s WYBC radio, Steding calls himself a “recording artist,” a description that draws upon threads of creativity woven of color and sound. “Both art and music use “harmony,” he explains. “The vibrations of color and sound permeate and transmute each other.”
Steding began painting at five years old, but it was not until his arrival in New York as a teen in the late 70s that he made his debut as a performer and artist. He developed his own electronic instruments to accompany his violin performances, and began performing both as a soloist, then later with artists including Blondie, Jim Carroll, David Byrne, Chic, Robert Fripp and Panther Burns. Steding met Andy Warhol at downtown discotheque Infinity, and went on to become his friend and painting assistant.
At Howl! Happening, Steding’s paintings move beyond physical representation and towards hidden and poetic unseen worlds. His simple and straightforward gaze reduces the critical noise of external reality and allows the viewer to experience people and creatures as through an abstract lens of shapes, colors, and forms.
In his painting, The Fall of Boaz, the two pillars of Solomon’s Temple crash and burn in the background while a cast of characters and symbols create a tableau upfront that fuses his esoteric knowledge and understanding of art history. His straightforward manner allows the viewer to by-pass the actual image and artistic style and inhabit the allegorical space of his imaginative world.
Like an old master painting, Storming the Capital encompasses metaphor and stylized emotion and relies on the observers’ interpretations of the meaning that Steding sets forth. Clearly emotional in tone, it insists on a deeper spiritual meaning portraying issues of life, death, love, virtue, and justice.
Like many of the artists and people of the Lower East Side, Steding’s generation continues to create – “[We] have something to say about our culture, our time, and what’s happening today,” he says. “There is a chance that art and music can have a voice and here is my voice.”