ADAM NEATE : DIMENSIONAL PAINTINGS by Ben Jones, Art Historian, December 2012 :
A century ago, in 1912, Picasso pushed Cubism into its most highly developed ‘synthetic’ phase. This shift from ‘analytical’ Cubism (space broken down) to ‘synthetic’ Cubism (built back up) marked a complex intertwining of illusionistic 3-D and flattened 2-D pictorial space in paint.
In Adam Neate’s most recent work, space itself becomes the medium. The accumulated plasticity of Cubism’s two distinct phases has been re-energised by Neate’s own distinctive mode: Dimensional Materialism.
CANVAS CRUCIFIX (2011) marked a turning point towards the obverse-reverse switchback of the picture plane whereby flat canvas becomes an active dimensional material, slicing and folding itself into a sculptural Christ-like form.
To get the full multi-dimensional effect, the viewer is asked to activate their own viewing space, as with KNEELING PORTRAIT where as you move and change vantage point, negative space is held in balance, unleashed, then restrained again.
The image resolves itself. Foreground to background shifting, space dissolving, volume folds in, energy pushes out. Now read that last sentence again, backwards.
Neate’s compositions are mapped by sensations of simultaneity. Multiple moments of past experience are elided with a slowed down and extended present moment.
The subject can be a place or a moment that seems unpromisingly banal. A fast food takeaway shop seen for years from the window of the artist’s own flat.
How to see it anew other than to be removed from it geographically, live elsewhere and summon it up again in the mind’s eye, engaging pictorially with the sensorial building blocks of memory and composing it anew?
Durationally open-ended timeframes abound, like the crepuscular fug of THE KEBAB SHOP, bathed in sickly neon, or the tungsten hum of THE NIGHTBUS.
Each is a poetic exercise in composing the strange, synapse-depleted streetscape of the urban night, an apotheosis from the banal to a kind of dreamlike state hovering above the everyday. Light-emitting diodes counting time slowed down almost to the point of reversal.
It’s a tense spatial/ emotional equipoise that resonates through all of Neate’s work.
The phalanx of THE RUNNERS spears and dissects a headwind, THE CYCLISTS slipstream angular space, whilst THE BOXERS spa amid counterclashing blocks of negative space, unleashed by the swirling vortices of a jab, slicing and shifting the air current so that the empty volume between vibrating ropes is itself punched out towards us.
Solidity is always under attack – the concrete object’s illusionistic integrity is assailed by penetrative light and line, just managing to maintain its intrinsic form.
Most forcefully conveyed by the Perspex Dimensional Portrait paintings, varying opacities of perspex and paint are overlaid, so that colour mixing happens ‘live’ in front of our eyes.
To use a musical analogy, it works like a soft vocal, laid down over an instrumental, kicked on by a drum beat. The activated ‘lit’ edge of the particular perspex Neate uses, operates as a kinetic drawn line, a sculpted gesture.
In MINIMAL DIMENSIONAL PORTRAIT the luminescent lime green contour of an angular jaw stands stark against bright orange and coalesces with its own grey shadow to suggest an embedded bone structure beneath the transparent layer.
The other cheek is a line turned in wire describing the outline from cranium via ear to back and reads like the edge of another transparent plane, albeit one that’s illusory.
There’s always a complex mental space being constructed here too – melancholic inertia, time-frozen introspection. A negative space exists in all of us perhaps – blank space that needs to be filled, offset, butted up against the positive space of productive communication.
In a previous painting entitled THE PREGNANCY TEST (2007) a proxy ‘place’ and ‘time’ was offered up to be revisited in 2012. The precursor painting’s axonometric CAD-cum-de Chirico spatial tension is rationalised into a horizontal graphic economy. In his most recent version the mirrored echo of the female form suggests there are at least three in this relationship.
The result is a metaphysics of melancholia, where the implied distance between people in close relationships is much more than spatial.
As the writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry put it: ‘Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’
First published in ADAM NEATE : DIMENSIONAL PAINTINGS, Art Stage Singapore, 24 – 27 January 2013