16 - 30 March 2019
Tom Adair’s genesis as an artist began in the subculture of the Melbourne graffiti scene. It is a place as competitive and as critical as any in the art world. Immersed in an urban landscape where the spray can is king, and speed is most certainly your friend. The artist’s intrinsic ability to make immediate, aesthetically strong paintings, was honed.
A decade after leaving the brick and concrete walls of the iconic streets for the studio, Adair’s more formal practice has taken centre stage. Palm Mirage is part of an ongoing project by the artist investigating the mid twentieth century architecture of Palm Springs, California.
Contextually viewed as a utopian paradise—its construction happened in a period of American history defined by unparalleled optimism for a falsely idealised future. Consumerism, and consequently, materiality, reigned. The legacy of ‘The Empire of Signs’, as The Times critic Robert Hughes put it, not only physically remains, but subliminally whispers its ideals into the twenty-first century. Palm Springs says so much about western aspiration and desire. Nostalgia is at play. Yet, Tom Adair’s practice delves far deeper than a lust for a design aesthetic. The artist is far more interested in us, our relationship to the environment, and how Modernism’s thirst for evolution and technology has changed us.
Adair’s exquisite hand drawing with the airbrush is fluid yet stripped back—a technical linage to Howard Arkley, the seminal Melbourne artist of the 1980’s and 90’s. The use of neon as a drawing tool abstracts and illuminates at once, literally electrifying the picture. It becomes the half vision of the desert mirage on a bright day or the cool reflections of a Hockneyesque pool.
- Ralph Hobbs March, 2019