This series of paintings represents Sam King’s artistic exploration during Covid. The artist explains:
‘At the beginning of the pandemic, as face to face interaction was replaced by the virtual, my work began to explore the shift of subjective experience from physical to digital realms’.
The figure paintings combine chiaroscuro techniques inspired by the old masters with sheen fades and fragmentation of the figure, traversing the boundary between the embodied and the simulated. The portrait works draw upon stock photos to explore the dissonance between authentic emotion, and the transactional use of emotion in advertising and social media.
King comments ‘the works act as a proxy for my own experience: flicking between temporal rhythms of attention and distraction, desires for genuine human interaction, and the systemisation of human life within capitalist and consumerist systems’
Drawing upon both historical and contemporary references, these works allude to the contradictions of contemporary experience. At once material and digital, the works express melancholy at the loss of connection to the organic world. Projecting ambivalence towards the exponential encroachment of technological progress and consumer capitalism, yet trying to make sense, to find meaning, within new, increasingly digitised environments and social landscapes. In that sense, the works explore both the utopian potential of these new ways of being and interacting, while maintaining awareness of the dystopian effects of social isolation and increasing capitalisation of online experience.
At its root is an exploration of subjectivity within the digital age. The works process how digitisation has changed how we exist and interact. They represent coming to terms with this new world, simultaneously isolated yet hyper-connected.