James Lomax: ‘Flatten & Collapse‘
I was able to visit the exhibition at Recent Activity on Digbeth First Friday, immediately finding connections between my own work through a similar interest in the urban environment, found objects and exploration of materials.
For this exhibition, Flatten and Collapse, James Lomax has investigated a physical and material language with which to explore and translate the city in which he once lived. Framing the city through painting and image, the displaced, mundane and impenetrable materials reflect and reconstruct its moving parts and nuances (Recent Activity, 2022)
Use of found objects in his work such as the fiberglass roof section. Similar interest in urban detritus. This has a significance as well as it is exhibited in the same area (Digbeth) as the original object was found. There is this sense of elevating the cast away, everyday object to that of an art object. The artist has made a direct choice to hang the fiberglass on the wall, allowing the piece to be read as a painting, helping connect the artwork establish a connection to art history. What adds another layer of interest are the footprints scattered across the board, with the muddy and greasy texture transforming an otherwise plain surface. It sets the piece within the contemporary setting and creates a relationship with human interaction. It is immediately recognised as something which was once on the ground or orientated below an observer, causing the current state of the composition appearing to be flipped sideways, allowing the audience to further question the purpose or original function of the piece.
By taking this throwaway object and hanging it in such a way transforms the physical objects and challenges the viewers understanding of the object. It becomes much more sculptural, almost more three dimensional in a way by highlighting the textures, colour and geometry. It also allows the viewer to engage with the psyche of the artists, understanding what the artist is driven by or interested in, and what type of objects catches his attention. You can begin to question why the artist is interested in this type of object and what the importance of taking it into the gallery setting is.
These are questions which I ask myself within my own work. I connected with this exhibition and the artist as he has a similar interest in the throwaway urban object. I identified with the way objects are displayed in a way like a museum piece or a valuable artefact of significant discovery.
This cast iron piece functioned in a very different way through being a reproduction of a found object. While not immediately recognisable, the piece is a cast of a grate on the gallery floor, making a literal connection between the artwork and the space in which it is hung.
The choice of materials is very historically loaded with a connection to Birmingham's Iron works. The iron also gives the piece a significant both physical and visual weight within the room. The dark colour further adds a way of highlighting the subtle textures of grating, concrete clumps and paint. It appears as though the artist is very engaged with the intricate, often overlooked, textures and patterns within urban environment's.
These are areas of interest within my own work, as I find it fascinating to reveal and almost celebrate the level of pattern and form within everyday objects through a play with materials. It will be useful moving forwards to revaluate my use of materials in connection with the objects I am collecting and inspired by. How do I contextualise this work? Is it a similar approach of making work to understand the urban environment around me or instead more solely about engaging with materials ...
Recentactivity.org.uk. 2022. James Lomax: Flatten & Collapse - Recent Activity. [online] Available at: <https://www.recentactivity.org.uk/project/james-lomax-flatten-collapse> [Accessed 4 April 2022].