A key inspiration for Lock is the written word, in particular the work of the dramatists Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. As the latter famously said, ‘Underneath what is said, something else is being said’ and the ideas invoked in that observation – notions of double meanings, loss, discovery and the overlapping of past and present – are key to understanding Lock’s entire oeuvre; in essence, each work is a meditation on the ambiguities of life revealed through abstraction.
Comprised of fifteen medium and large-scale paintings, as well as sculptures and a suite of works on paper, this is the artist’s largest presentation to date and his third with the gallery. The paintings are rendered in Lock’s trademark style. A canvas is prepared with gesso onto which layers of acrylic and household paint are applied and then manipulated – sanded, stained, scorched, sealed and torn – and also treated to the effects of a heat gun. The artist sees each canvas as a battleground, with the materials at war with one another. These collisions are orchestrated to some extent, but there is also a pervading element of chance and unpredictability, with paint colours changing due to unplanned physical and chemical interactions.
The sculptural works, which Lock describes as ‘containers of energy,’ are created from sheets of copper and, as with the paintings, are treated as ‘battlegrounds’, being sprayed with nitrate to achieve extraordinary reactions, as well as exposed to blow-torches and a club hammer. Intrinsic to these works will be the plinths on which they are mounted, which will have mirrored surfaces, lending them a further optic dimension and the implication of what the artist calls ‘the presence of absence’.
Finally, Lock’s interest in the written word is further evidenced in a series of book cover works. The source material was gifted by a local charity shop because their condition made them ineligible for sale. Covers and pages are often missing, and their aged character speaks of the passage of time. They are stories in themselves.
Says Freddie Burness, Director of Cadogan Contemporary: ‘While it is formed of three elements, all of the featured works in Now/here are united by Sam’s overarching fascination with excavating what lies under the surface of things, with the layers of life and meaning reflected quite literally in the architecture of each painting, sculpture and drawing. We are delighted to be staging a show by one of the most compelling abstract artists of his generation.’
A catalogue has been produced to accompany this exhibition and is available upon request.