Walter Meyer is best known for his realist paintings of rural South Africa, mood pieces that formed the bedrock of his output from the early 1990s onwards. He arrived at this mature style after experimenting with versions of surrealism, photorealism and neo-expressionism. The influence of contemporary German painting, notably A.R. Penck, is clear in his neo-expressionist paintings and drawings from the late 1980s. His expressive and gestural canvases are often crowded with simplified figures, primitivist symbols and bold patterns, as well as characterised by their uncomplicated colour palette. Meyer’s uptake of neo-expressionism owes partly to his training. In 1987, after a period of local success, he enrolled in further studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, a hotbed of artistic innovation. His mentor was Michael Buthe, a painter celebrated for his “crowded configurations” and “hippy transcendentalism”.1 Meyer’s vibrant and eye-catching output from this short-lived phase is defined by its youthful vigour.
1. Michael Buthe at Galerie Thomas Flor, Frieze, 31 January 2013: frieze.com/article/michael-buthe?language=en.