Maria Walther or Painting as Language

Maria Walther does not readily talk about her work.  She prefers the viewer to give his imagination free rein, and to communicate directly with her paintings.  However, on the occasion of her retrospective exhibition in the abbey at Caunes-Minervois, open from 1st May to 30th June 2009, she allowed herself to impart some of her secrets.


Maria started painting when she was about 20, studying Visual and Graphic Art in The Netherlands.  She began by working on engraving, etching and experimenting with various techniques and mixed media.  The work she produced was often monochrome, frequently containing dream-like abstractions of human shapes.


Then she came to France.  She loves light, Mediterranean nature and the landscapes of The Black Mountains where she has settled.  In these surroundings, her work has become more colourful.  She paints imaginary landscapes in which mountains take pride of place, revealing a preoccupation with nature -trees, water... 

Human figures rarely appear, and creatures feature more and more often, sometimes singly, sometimes swarming, always within a dream-like, half abstract environment.  Maria watches with concern - she says ‘with pessimism’- as animals manage, by various means such as camouflage, to melt into their natural surroundings.  Human beings, on the other hand, are increasingly less successful in this pursuit.  The body of her work poses a vast question over the future of humanity.  When asked what instrument could compliment her oil paintings, she replies ‘Perhaps a flute’, then changes her mind and says ‘No, silence.’


Nature’s legacy, with mythological undertones ... a reflection on the world and its future.  Maria Walther reveals a rich, very personal, inner fantastical world, expressing itself with talent – art from the inner self.


Marie-Elise Gardel

Maria Walther

We very much liked  a major retrospective exhibition of paintings by Maria Walther, showing work from the early 1980s until the present day.  The exhibtion features a prolific outpouring of current work, and it is fascinating to see the developments from her early work, when she was a well-known and highly successful artist in Holland.


Maria has lived in France for the past 20 years, but it is only in the last 5 years that she has resumed her artistic work.  Her paintings reveal a completely original and unique style.  For the most part, her subject matter depicts a futuristic world in which man, beast and mythical creature co-exist in an environment of troubled nature.  Inspired by a tradition peculiar to the great Dutch artists of the past, Maria applies her oils using multiple, thin layers to create a fabulous translucence. 


In  highly intricate detail, she will create petrified hands, powerless to affect a dying landscape;  creatures, confined within the complex structures of rock or decaying tree;  fragments of fish, insects and mammals strain to free themselves from polluted quagmire;  a mythical, fairytale-like deformed monster, dripping pollution, paces the earth beneath a finely painted duck in her nest, the duck oblivious to the dark threat;  the detailed depiction  of bird or bat contrasts with the mountain landscape of ice and rock, within which abstract shapes carry echoes of  living organisms from the past.  Occasionally, a  painting contains a message of hope – that there is still evidence of salvation or renewal.

Maria Walther is a highly accomplished and talented artist.


Helen Othen





Maria Walther Exhibition, @ Linear House Gallery, 20 – 31 October 2010-11-02

COMMENTS in Visitors’ Book


  1. What a fabulous show – such lyrical, intriguing paintings – thank you. Paul Rosen
  2. Very interesting – glad to see paintings. Francis Treanor
  3. Beautiful, translucent images. Joyce Lowman
  4. Marvellous work, inspirational lovely colours. (Signature)
  5. Interesting, if Blakeish (?) influences. BC
  6. Technically superb and finely executed magic. Thank you. Shirley Tudor-Pole
  7. Love the paintings, specially the Escape painting. OZ
  8. Camouflage is fab – well done. Rjosheu
  9. Intriguing technical skill and unusual technique. EM
  10. Stunning, thought-provoking painting with wonderful colour. Dorothy (?)
  11. Absorbing, evocative – many different ways to see these paintings – and what a life story! Audrey Ringrose
  12. Beautiful paintings, so detailed and rich in colour. Fab!
  13. Inspiring – awesome – something to think about. (Signature)
  14. Very interesting technique, I will search for Maria’s work. I like the “Timeless” topics. (Signature)
  15. I really like “Mutation” (because of the hands) and “Camouflage” (just great). “Being Different” really becomes more and more interesting the closer you get to it, “The Escape” is really nice but the balance seems off for some reason. For me “Layers of Life” is a bit boring so I don’t agree with your choice to make it the main picture of your exhibition. Also the bat and the man don’t fit in. Really like the details in your paintings, the viewer is allowed to conjure up what he wants, which is cool. (Signature).
  16. In my opinion the abstract paintings are the more successful. Love the technique, it’s great to see something in a different medium. Sandra Kutler
  17. To me – very original and fascinating for both old and young. Alas, too expensive, do you have smaller works?
  18. Wonderful …. Absolutely fascinating … extraordinary … Pat Hammodi
  19. I love the glowing colours and the more abstract forms – and it was fascinating to read your story! I’ve never seen this style of painting before either – I like the delicacy and transparency of it. Lara
  20. Thank you. I found this exhibition very interesting and the imagery very profound. I am currently starting on an art therapy course, and although I hadn’t read the artist’s story the image “Layers of Life” spoke to me very clearly. I have worked in areas where there has been huge trauma, and distress and this spoke to me very clearly, and instantly reminded me of the refugee camps in Goma and Lake Victoria. The anguish and the hidden trauma below the beautiful blue ? and trees. Your imagery from nature is very beautiful. I really enjoyed your paintings, thank you very much. I will now read your story and thank you for sharing it with us and me as a complete stranger. Maree
  21. Very interesting stuff. Like the bats! Something pleasingly Edwardian about these paintings. Shame about the frames though. Very good work. Ged Adamson
  22. Thank you very much, I love the insects and the bats! The ideas and textures are fabulous – very thought-provoking! Vanessa Davies
  23. Interesting and great colours. Jimmer & Sarah, London
  24. Very intricate and deep. I can’t say it was to my personal taste but nevertheless worthy of a look. Alan H.

The Mercury, Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Greenwich, South London, UK