Artist Talk: Adam Lee | World Sick Hermit
Updated: May 30, 2022
The Station Gallery 29th Jan - 26th Feb 2022
image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaVXJp8BdFv/
I recently attended an online talk (via Zoom) with artist Adam Lee on his recent exhibition at The Station Gallery in Melbourne . This was in conversation with Clare Needham, Curator at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Adam talked quite specifically about a couple of paintings in the show, which we were shown in a slideshow concurrently with the talk. His work is incredibly detailed, which I realised I had not realised. Initially I've been drawn to the digital images of his work on instagram because of the painting as a whole and how it operates aesthetically. I feel I needed his description of the narrative behind the work, given in this talk, to really pull me into a deeper appreciation of the painting. However I can imagine that the immersive experience of encountering his work in real life would draw me into a more careful examination of his work, where perhaps I would have discovered for myself some of these intricacies. I had only engaged with images of his work via their digital representation on instagram though, up until the talk. So the talk for me was an incredibly rich experience, that made the processes and narratives behind his work accessible, and I've been thinking about this in terms of the texts or additional material that accompanies a painting (often for marketing or educational purposes) and how that can be quite fundamental to an audience's understanding of an artwork. This is relevant to my work because the majority of people tht engage with my work do so online, via its digital image and accompanying text/s and I believe this is an important consideration.
I was really appreciative that this opportunity to engage more deeply with the artist and the work was offered and feel that these offerings, which extend beyond the traditional model of an exhibition in a physical art gallery, is a valuable means of engaging with a wider audience. I know this experience was borne probably out of necessity for the gallery to try and engage an audience in a time of covid limitations, but beyond that need (and the broader motive of marketing an artwork to try and sell it), I felt the talk delivered something of true human value: connection.
It disappoints me how purely transactional the engagement of art can be online, how my art is read almost exclusively as a product or commodity, which yes, it is, but the opportunity to utilise the art as a vehicle for the expression of ideas and meaningful connection is lost. For it is this ability to express ideas and spark a connection that I feel is what gives art its value.
Social engagement as an artist is important to me for a number of reasons, the most interesting being the potential of art to be a catalyst or prompt for more meaningful connections. By this I mean it is not just self-serving and one-directional, but a two-way or multi-way exchange of considered, values-led ideas between artist and others, as a means of making meaning collectively.
So there are a few reasons that I am very motivated to focus on engagement with my work, and perhaps even to consider the engagement that occurs around my "work" as part of the work itself, for example, considering an artist talk as part of art making, a social practice that utilises a physical artwork as a prompt perhaps, rather than a marketing exercise.