b. 1969

                                     Lives and works in Adelaide, Australia.

Christian Lock was born in 1969. He completed an Advanced Diploma of Art, Applied & Visual, North Adelaide School of Art, Adelaide (1999); Bachelor Visual Arts, SA School of Art, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2000); Honours, Bachelor Visual Arts, SA School of Art, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2001); Masters Visual Arts, SA School of Art, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2006). Exhibitions include The Substation Contemporary Art Prize, The Substation Centre for Art & Culture, Victoria (2011); CACSA Contemporary 2010: THE NEW NEW, Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide (2010); Wynne Prize for landscape painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2008).

 

Collections include Artbank, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia & private collections.

'To describe Christian Lock's work as a painting does not quite encompass the nature of this practice. He works with painting, interrogating its components and parts, examining their roles and possibilities before pulling them back together in the final object. The impulse to push past the traditional limits of painting draws a lineage from Contemporary Abstract painting to the ideas of late 1960's Modernist Abstraction and "Light and Space; art of Californian Minimalism". Referred to as "Finish Fetish: artists they aligned their aesthetics with Californian car and surf culture, appropriating new innovative industrial materials such as resins, plastics and auto enamels; the resulting reflective forms acknowledged light and space as integral considerations working to remove the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture.

 

His recent work employs a range of novel analogue and digital painting methods in combination with industrial substrates, plastics and resins, testing their gestural and spatializing qualities and their potential to break free from a two- dimensional plane while reassessing painting's physicality.

 

Sampling and repurposing a diverse range of forms, motifs and strategies from Modernism, the industrial processes and materiality of minimalism and hybrid language of Post Modernism and Pop Culture, the paintings become 'remixes'; creating new tracks from fragments of old songs, full of quiet nods to the history of painting whilst exploring its possibilities and suggesting its potential future.'

CHRISTIAN LOCK

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13th INTERNATIONAL CAIRO BIENNALE               2019

Hybrid-children-watch-the-sea-lo-res_edited.jpg

SPACE JUNKIE                                                     2018

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QUICKSILVER                                                      2016

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                                                                          2015

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                                                                          2013

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                                                                          2011

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                                                                          2009

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                                                                          2007

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                                                                          2005

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                                                                          2003

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13th INTERNATIONAL CAIRO BIENNALE
2019

EYES EAST BOUND -

To describe Christian Lock's work as a painting does not quite encompass the nature of this practice. He works with painting, interrogating its components and parts, examining their roles and possibilities before pulling them back together in the final object. The impulse to push past the traditional limits of painting draws a lineage from Contemporary Abstract painting to the ideas of late 1960's Modernist Abstraction and "Light and Space; art of Californian Minimalism". Referred to as "Finish Fetish: artists they aligned their aesthetics with Californian car and surf culture, appropriating new innovative industrial materials such as resins, plastics and auto enamels; the resulting reflective forms acknowledged light and space as integral considerations working to remove the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture.

 

His recent work employs a range of novel analogue and digital painting methods in combination with industrial substrates, plastics and resins, testing their gestural and spatializing qualities and their potential to break free from a two- dimensional plane while reassessing painting's physicality.

 

Sampling and repurposing a diverse range of forms, motifs and strategies from Modernism, the industrial processes and materiality of minimalism and hybrid language of Post Modernism and Pop Culture, the paintings become 'remixes'; creating new tracks from fragments of old songs, full of quiet nods to the history of painting whilst exploring its possibilities and suggesting its potential future. 

 

SPACE JUNKIE
2018

EXHIBITION TEXT  -

GAGPROJECTS is proud to present Space Junky by Christian Lock.

Glossy surfaces and abstract, amorphously rounded or lazy geometric shapes characterise the new paintings by Christian Lock. The paintings elegant in themselves are as much constructions as they are paintings, directly referencing Modernism’s pure beauty.

The imperfect smoothness of the surfaces and their crisp, limit palette call to mind Mondrian, Reitfveld, de Stijl or even Malevich — possibly Modernity’s most prominent abstract artists working in the first quarter of the 20th century. In creating these new works Lock, revisits seminal works from the early Modernists: scrutinising forms and colours and infuses a new energy and materiality into the mix.

This is not a sentimental retrogressive approach to art making, Lock has for sometime sort to extend the possibilities of painting, experimenting with materials, systems of holding a 2 dimensional surface in space, or methods of production outside the traditional conventions.

- Paul Greenaway

To describe Christian Lock as a painter does not quite encompass the full nature of his practice – Lock works with painting, interrogating its component parts, examining their role and possibilities, before pulling them back together in the final object. This impulse to push past the traditional limits of painting draws a lineage from Lock to the ideas of late 1960s Californian Minimalism, or Light and Space art. Referred to as the ‘Finish Fetish’ artists, those working in this manner aligned their aesthetics with the car and surf culture prevalent in California, appropriating new and innovative industrial materials such as resins, plastics and auto enamels. The resulting reflective forms acknowledged light and space as integral considerations, working to remove the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture. 

Lock’s recent work pushes these materials, testing their gestural qualities and their potential to break free from the two-dimensional plane. Their molded surfaces appear casual, even accidental, but time spent with them reveals their careful composition. The works in Space Junky are a balance of experimentation and control: areas of deliberate molding steady the liquid drips; smooth and glossy, mechanical geometry provides a counterpoint to liquid biomorphic forms.

Gillian Brown,

Curator,

Samstag Museum of Art,

Uni of South Australia, 2018

 

QUICKSILVER
2016

EXHIBITION TEXT  -

Quicksilver: 25 Years of Samstag Scholarships celebrates the 25th anniversary of Gordon Samstag’s remarkable bequest, which led to establishment of the Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarships. The greatest gift expressly given towards the development and education of Australian artists, the scholarships provide Australia’s most promising artists the opportunity to study overseas, at any institution of their choosing.

Thanks to Gordon Samstag’s generosity, over 130 Samstag Scholars have already benefited from a unique international experience that introduces them to new networks of artists, curators and visual arts professionals, to become key names in our nation’s cultural pantheon.

Quicksilver reflects on the impact of the Samstag Scholarships on the trajectory of Australian contemporary art. Pivotal works by six distinguished scholars – Mikala Dwyer, Nicholas Folland, Shaun Gladwell, Christian Lock, Nike Savvas and Linda Tegg – highlight the exciting talent that the University of South Australia has had the pleasure of assisting over the last quarter century.

Quicksilver is a Samstag Museum of Art exhibition developed for the University of South Australia’s 25th birthday celebrations, curated by Gillian Brown.

 


2015

EXHIBTION TEXT  -

Painting, like music, belongs more to time than space. The physical intelligence of our bodies is a recording of past occurrences into our flesh. Even our analytical minds are formless, until given shape by some outside prompt. Our echoes to stimuli are lined with complex patterns, built up through seemingly unrelated events. Tumultuous and sometimes violent imagery is a given.

My work involves the dispersal of paint and pigment by air. If a viewer were to observe the studio process, they may consider that nothing has been added that was not already present. The movements from the floor to the wall could appear as repeated resurrections. But could also be considered an inversion, vertiginously holding up the viewer. Monochromatic images help us to see things in greater definition.’

 


2013

CHRISTIAN LOCK: MIND AND MATTER - ELLE FREAK, 2013  -

Christian Lock’s recent works take us on a speculative journey. We see pearlescent biomorphic forms floating across fields of black abstract patterns on plastic. The materials appear animated, with the plastic draped loosely over exposed timber stretchers. At first the eye travels with some uncertainty and enters a kind of perspectival tug of war between seemingly disparate forms and surfaces. But slowly we notice Lock has poetically tempered chaos with control.

Lock is relentlessly engaged with testing the limits of the painting process. He works like an alchemist open to the transmutation and magic that occurs through the manipulation of matter. At the core of his creative process is an experimental procedure. Lock creates ‘paint skins’: brush strokes of varying sizes and shapes applied to sheets of plastic, which are later removed and reapplied. These skins become interchangeable parts that are systematically arranged on the studio floor like collage. Through this process Lock works counter-intuitively in what he considers to be a higher state of consciousness, guided by the tonalities and rhythm of his materials.

His approach combines formal control and free-flowing randomness to find pictorial balance. The surfaces are reminiscent of the control of hard-edge abstraction and the spontaneity of abstract expressionism. The systematic and precise abstract patterns are balanced with their spontaneous and gestural counterparts to achieve an image of structure and spatial depth. The geometric patterns flatten the pictorial surface while the swirling gestures allude to a deep abyss. Flat solid coloured shapes are sparingly placed over the top of a monochromatic base to further enliven the scene. Their shallow depth of field is confronting – as Andrew Frost has noted, they disturb the illusion of infinite space ‘like a sticker placed over a photo’1.

The rest of the palette appears mystical and meditative, entering the realm of the artificial and psychedelic. The monochromatic layers created through digital scanning processes have a ghostly presence, like X-rays of the human body, film negatives or storm clouds. This dark palette is not new to Lock: in 2003 he completed a series of paintings featuring holographic stickers with black synthetic polymer paint, highlighting the play between the visible and the void. Lock embraces the luminescent qualities of black when placed against vibrant colour, and seems to share a view similar to Kandinsky who regarded black to be leading an existence away from that of simple colour.

Lock’s paintings are no longer content to rest flat on a wall and instead occupy three-dimensional space. He is revisiting the late 1960s modernist exploration of ‘painting in space’. However, rather than reshaping or eliminating the frame, Lock takes on the rectangle by exposing, overflowing or displacing it. In some cases the stretcher even becomes a compositional device. By these means Lock separates the basic elements that typically hold a painting together: the stretcher and the canvas.

Plastic is introduced as the binding material. In his 1957 classic essay ‘Plastic’, Roland Barthes observed that plastic is ‘more than a substance, plastic is the very idea of its infinite transformation… it is less a thing than the trace of a movement’2. In line with Barthes’ view, Lock hasn’t fixed his plastic into a final state but has chosen to leave the material open to change and manipulation. He has previously said that his works ‘allow one to see oneself slowly morphing and changing along with them, making each viewer aware of the self’s potential to change and flow’3. One wonders if Lock aims to manipulate the mind as he does matter, revealing them both as infinitely malleable.

Perhaps the most engaging aspect of these works is how the ethereal properties of the materials shift with the conditions of perception. The holographic paper and glitter,4 for instance, reflect the surrounding hues and appear to change depending on where the viewer is standing. Likewise the plastic layers reflect external light and require the viewer to move to see beyond their own reflection. It is as if the works demonstrate the synthetic character of a hallucinatory state and engage with the late 1960s ideas of psychedelia. In The politics of ecstasy, 1968, psychologist Timothy Leary famously promoted LSD consciousness, describing it as a state of flux and elation that could release the mind from the illusions of conventional consciousness and provide access to the expansive realms of the ‘Mind at Large’5. While hallucinogenic drugs are not the impetus for Lock’s work, he expresses a similar desire to expand consciousness. He urges us to follow an unknown path into transcendence and quite simply ‘go with the flow’.

 

FOOT NOTES


1- Andrew Frost, untitled essay, Christian Lock website, 29 September 2013, http://www.christianlock.com/about-2/ 

2- Roland Barthes, 'Plastic', in Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: The Noonday Press, 1972), p.97

3- Christian Lock, ‘Ghost in the Machine: Gesture and sublime in a postmodern age’ (masters thesis, University of South Australia, 2007), p.47

4- These materials stem from Lock’s background in surf culture, but he has explained recently that ‘surfing is no longer the major force behind my paintings’. Christian Lock, in conversation with Elle Freak, Adelaide, September 2013

5- Timothy Leary, The politics of ecstasy (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1968). ‘Mind at large’ is a concept from Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, 1954, and Heaven and Hell, 1956.

 


2011

EXHIBITION NOTES BY ANDY BEST

I like a lot of things about Christian Lock’s paintings. I usually visualize them lined up in his large studio to the south of the city, where he works across multiple canvases. The museum scaled, pooled, and impasto-ed paintings speak of course of European and North American abstraction. But I like their other, more local references, too. And I like his attitude.

I also like Lock’s titles. They champion narrative and humour above the purity and universality that you might expect from High Modernism. It is easy to see them as an equally important component of the work. They are ironic, always coming from a highly individualized perspective. They make repeated nods towards death and other highly dramatic narratives. Most importantly, the titles point us towards a broader cultural focus.

Lock’s father was the artistic director of the seminal surf clothing brand Golden Breed, whose invention of sci-fi fantasy surf art is a legacy for these works. Sci-Fi and Surrealism are often recognised as related - respective by-products of internal and extraterrestrial scientific exploration. In Australia, we might add another triad - surfing - which exists as a very immediate and accessible entry into transcendence.

Also perhaps important is the rapid transcendence available through drugs and popular culture. In works such as Taste the Space Candy we can see the imprints from graphic design in magazines or video clips. At other times holograms, clothing designs, or car paint effects manifest themselves. Glitter paint was invented in South Australia (the product of a rivalry between Murray River speedboat owners, cooked up in a suburban workspace - much like Lock’s).

Lock’s works are not mere collages or sampling. The idea seems erroneous - as wrong as the phrase 'surfing the internet' has always been. Just as in that analogy, the body is inert when online; in surfing and large-scale painting, one is always fully embodied. In Lock's case, the body is equally important when viewing his works. Also, surfing is a creative act, and reading online could only ever be considered active in relation to, say, television. When I think of the function of Lock’s paintings, they stand in for a more creative, digested and active engagement with culture.

Abstract Expressionism’s ‘truthiness’ was aimed not only at the materiality present in the current act of painting, but in reappraising works that preceded them. It saw itself as a general raising of consciousness. If we think of abstraction and Lock’s works, they perhaps more function like a dream. Easy and difficult things have been brought into a strange continuum. Light appears without a source. When viewed in an exhibition, their homogeneity both hides and reveals the sequential moments of their construction. And just as in a dream we are unsurprised by sudden counter-logical appearances. Rather than a scientific raising of consciousness, I much prefer Lock’s wilful and mystical distortions to it.

 


2009

ARTIST NOTES  -

These current paintings attempt to conjure up fictive spaces and abstract narratives. While these works remain open to subjective perception, they suggest states of metamorphosis, and record and evoke sensations of submersion, flight and weightlessness. I continue to combine a range of experimental approaches to painting, with a strategy of sampling and remixing as a fluid means of developing aesthetic and conceptual frame works.

 


2007