Adam Neate’s latest show, Dimensionalism, at Elms Lesters in Soho, marks a departure for the artist – or perhaps for the viewer.
I was struck by the fact that I was left with an enduring impression of blue, rather than of Neate’s usual, ubiquitous, livid red. The bleak, humming glow of the television or computer screen has given way in these works to bright, sunlit blue. The sun beats down and throws hard shadows on Neate’s human subjects, whether they’re arching their backs for a beach selfie, or exerting themselves in sporting activities, hunched in groups over bicycle or horse. And this is where Neate excels, with the use of shadow and perspective forcing the viewer to bob up and down, or duck left and right, trying to work out which part of the painting is traditionally laid down, and which is made with 3D shapes that sit at angles to the “canvas”, protruding from or sinking into the backdrop, and give off painterly shadows – or are they painted shadows?
The artist is using the human body as a vehicle to explore almost mathematical experimentations on perspective.
Having said that, I was drawn particularly to the more traditionally painterly, melancholy pieces. The figures under a black umbrella seem to be mourning; the faces of the fighters in Brothers gurn with hate. Here the subjects express sadness or anger, and show off Neate’s physical use of paint.
It’s great to see the physicality of Neate’s early work and the technological processes more associated with his more recent pieces working together so strongly in this exhibition. C
Adam Neate: Dimensionalism is at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, 1–3–5 Flitcroft Street, London WC2H until 18 October 2014