Elms Lester Painting Rooms
1-3-5 Flitcroft St,
London, WC2H 8DH
All photos by nolionsinEngland
Deep joy, another Adam Neate collection of new art at Elms Lester and another guided tour by gallerist Paul Jones. This is, I think, the third Adam Neate talk by Paul Jones I’ve had the pleasure of lurking at. Paul Jones describes Neate’s new works in terms of linear self-informing progression, each step forward a consequence of the previous stride. With the aid of a few pics, here is what stuck in the memory about this latest display, so no guarantee regarding accuracy.
Neate continues with the figurative subject matter and 3D compositions. The 3D Perspex portraits retain the motion effects, the play with shadows and the cubist approach to representation through distorted surfaces and edges. The new aspect in the Perspex pieces is the introduction of mirrored perspex to throw the ambient light around the image with a greater degree of control. The stand out piece is Home Entertainment. Tremendous attention to detail surrounds the shadows cast by the standard lamp in the room. The picture incorporates photographs of both the artist and his wife, seemingly a one off multi-media effect the narrative appears to be that they have just taken a bath and the artist is viewing an image of his wife on the TV screen. I hope I understood that correctly!
What also can’t be seen in the photo is that the curtains to the right are actually 3D louvers and Neate has used fibre optics to create pin points of light outside the window representing stars
Neate retains his light, whimsical touch celebrating innocent love, classical beauty, shining lights and celestial choirs. Only kidding. This next piece is called No Way Out,, a man seeks solace in the bottle as relief from problems with his marriage and job. Exit is an organisation for promoting the early killing of old people or something. The composition is hugely 3D with every twist and trim of the Perspex sheets and tubes significant in defining a limb, a gesture or piece of fabric
Neate has now set himself the challenge of proving himself a true painter by translating his kinetic layered portraits back to canvas. In this study, Neate has built up the layers to achieve a considerable relief effect from the surface of the canvas.
One of the more interesting developments is portrayed by gallerist Paul as being accidental or intuitive, you decide. Having painted a figure of a man naked from the nips up and reflected at length upon what he saw on the canvas, Neate one day just picked up a Stanley knife and slashed at the canvas. The gaping slashes revealed a further layer or dimension within the canvas for him to play with. The slashes suggest perhaps ribs inside or maybe the self-harming consequence of listening too much to The Horrors.
From the discovery of using the effect of opening up the surface of the canvas, Neate now exploits the plane of the canvas, explores into the depth of the canvas and with the addition of collaged objects reaches out of the surface of the canvas into the room space. This has now come to be termed the “dimensional painting”, playing with layers. In the drive through composition, although it may not seem so from the photo, Neate has created layers on the surface of the canvas with cut penetrations and additional inserts. The driver is collecting the fizzies from a hatch cut into the canvas, and those drinks are 3 dimensional, his wife has lowered a drinks tray which also is an additional layer sitting proud of the canvas plane, the folds in the boy’s teeshirt in the back is a 2D replica of the way Neate represents clothing folds in 3D using winding perpsex tubing. The driver married the bearded lady, no, sorry, that’s the shadow.
Although not described by Paul Jones this way, it seems Neate follows a sort of three steps forward one step back iterative process in which after some experimentation with new stuff he goes back to an earlier technique to see if what he has learned affects the content or result from earlier ways of working. So in this show alongside the dimensional perspex painting we see a recent old style cardboard portrait.
Perhaps the most radically different “painting” in this show is a stretched primed canvas which Neate has attacked with the Stanley knife and through the slashes, twists and folds has assembled a recognisably Neate-esque figure, the stretched canvas has been transformed into a sculpture contained cleverly within the original stretcher. Brilliant and stunning. For this piece, the position of the lighting is critical to create the fall of shadows within the piece that define nose, eyes, mouth in a way Neate has made his signature. The staging of this item as the sole focal point in a plain white corridor was beautiful.
Neate defines himself as a painter though and to be honest the patter got slightly knotted when the question ‘why is this one painting and not sculpture was thrown from the floor.
lady NoLions thought there was something KKK sinister in this one.
The link across the various mediums used in this collection is the idea of layering, The phrase “Dimensional Painting” feels like it is almost an effort to define a new “new school”, lets hope that a less clumsy description evolves. Jones is charmingly evangelical on the subject of Neate’s work, he clearly regards Neate as the most complete and most significant painter of his generation, drawing analogies with great modern painters including Lucien Freud, Warhol, Cubists and impressionists. I’m easily persuaded based on the work in this show and the clear growth through the series of Elms Lester shows over the past four years.