Luke Adams | ...when the frame looms greater
Shrouded in minimalism the simplistic presentation of this work belies a sophisticated and deeply considered observation of the world we live in today. Luke explores our relationship to screens, observes the changing television unit in our home and reflects on our design aspirations at the expense of authentic materiality (for example ‘wood patterned plastic veneers’, instead of ‘wood’). And that’s just the beginning.
Layer on layer of meaning, Luke challenges the form of painting by blending sculpture with painting composition, he considers the gallery environment and plays with scale. Luke’s insight into the world we live in today, his workmanship and humour are imperative viewing.
Situated in a thoroughfare opposite ACCA and the Malthouse, beneath a building that houses all sorts of people, there could be nothing more enjoyable than sipping coffee and considering these five large vitrines*. They are tall, narrow and range in length from about two meters to the size of a small truck, and positioned from one end of the 50meter walk to the other.
What strikes me at once is the familiarity of the subject. I look upon a dark rectangle representing a television, various rectangular forms denoting a television unit with shelves and two small plants. Luke has removed all details of the technology he refers to, leveraging our innate recognition of technological device dimensions and colours. The composition is very pleasing, it is uniform and there is symmetry. There is nothing about the work in front of me that offends, it simply washes over me - however it is not benign. I am reminded of an alter, or perhaps a fireplace; both of which have held equally common and important positions within the home.
In context of the surrounding open built environment the composition seems life-sized, however on approach the scale of the work diminishes to the size of a large painting. The composition draws you in, creates the perception of depth yet it is flat – and it is not a painting at all, but a kind of relief sculpture. Luke masterfully plays with space, scale and illusion, blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
This 7 meter glass box with white back wall and laminate ‘wood’ flooring houses an exquisite painting of a bay. The tree lined shore of the painting arches around to meet the horizon with an approaching electric blue storm reflected on the still waters. The painting is surrounded by a wide black flat frame. At a distance it could be mistaken for an iphone advertisement, yet on inspection the paint is impasto and the brush strokes clearly evident. The dimensions of the painting reflect a television – perhaps one from the 1970’s in a wooden veneer box with little legs and gold trim. Perhaps this is a nod to the once prevalent landscape painting that hung in the family living room. Regardless, the painting is positioned for perfect viewing from the armchair situated at the other end of the vitrine.
This armchair is a dirty pink floral electric lift-chair jerking an invisible sitter into standing position and folding back down. The chair is repulsive - and the painting is stunning. The whole thing is kind of perverse and amusing at the same time. I can’t take my eyes from it.
Jolted away from references to the home environment I am now looking at a reflection of myself in a massive black screen. It is about the length and height of two double matrasses end to end, framed by wood veneer, a halo of party lights is strung around its perimeter. Queries flow through my mind: is big is beautiful? Is home theatre the new middle-class benchmark? What content is not screen based? Does this represent our omniscient leader? I move on.
This version of a television and its purpose built joinery has been equally reduced to its minimalist character as in Vitrine 1. These works are similar in the treatment of scale and composition: they seem life-sized, but are scale models; they seem sculptural, but they are flat with strong painting composition characters.
Yet this work is even more finely constructed from stained and prepared wood and melamine
fitted together to create the illusion of a solid three dimensional object. The wall of the composition is made from the highly textured oriental chip board, there is a line across denoting a mantel, an electric blue-black impasto painting denotes a television and below this a low set of single draws. Two small plastic lavender pot plants ‘sit’ on the shelf and are imperative to the illusion of depth and three dimensionality.
You could top and tail three double mattresses in this space. Wood pressed laminate has been applied to the wall presenting as a huge canvass for two horizontal strips of pastel coloured wood that stretch the length of the vitrine. One length is longer and thinner and pastel pink, the other is slightly shorter and wider and pastel yellow. Their horizontal movement provides a marvellous contrast to the dull brown vertical floorboard patternation of the laminate. A dark rectangle the dimension of a television is placed to the right of the composition. It is a carpet tile. Although the materials Luke has used for this work are ubiquitous in all modern mass produced homes, this work evokes a home that is spacious and wealthy – or maybe it is all an illusion.
*Vitrines are glass boxes used to display objects.
This exhibition is a part of Luke’s Master by Research studies at the
Victorian College of the Arts.
Luke Adams | ...when the frame looms greater
8 November to 15 January 2018
Vitrine 1. Image courtesy of L.Adams
Vitrine 2. Image courtesy of L.Adams
Vitrine 3. Image courtesy of L.Adams
Vitrine 4. Image courtesy of L.Adams
Vitrine 5. Image courtesy of L.Adams