Yellow Brick Studios, Nea Ionia, Athens, Greece, 2022
Text by Manolis Tsipos
the smell of eucalyptus
three (countless) cats
Read the words. Stroll in the city. Write, take notes, as many as you can. Find little treasures in the flea market. Be a poet for the day. Collect memories. Build them into your biography. Go to the studio. Lay down shirts. Shirts for men. Middle-aged, or in the prime of their youth. Pick fabrics with flowers on them. Draw squares with them on the concrete floor. Dig up. Be the archaeologist, reigning over your plots, filled with domestic ruins. Start writing a new novel. Re-write its first few phrases over and over again. Until the night falls. Then dream. Here is where the sculptures begin to shape. At last. You can now have a glimpse of Adam.
Read the words again. Between the lines, the work of Adam John Cullen invites us into the act of collecting objects which speak of fragmented memories and evaporated bodies, of absent people and forgotten places, of grief inside and outside of us, in the domestic and in the public sphere, on our kitchen table and the peak of the world. Adam casts his sculptural work after a process of breaking down and recasting previous works, objects, elements that persist in his mind. When experiencing his sculptural landscapes, we find ourselves locked inside an archaeological dig, among the words and phrases of a novel that keeps re-telling Adam’s biography. He ceaselessly investigates how a sculpture can become an effective tool in order to communicate personal narratives. We can now see Adam as a novelist writing with sculptures.
Read the words once more. The sculptural work that emerges from them is of a light nature. This work comes as a contrast to Adam’s “normative” sculptures which are heavy, made of concrete. Here, in this residency, as he spends his time feverishly re-designing his work day after day, Adam is resting from his own “normal” practice. His words are sewed as the outcome of a careful work of embroidery, his materials are shirts, fabric, and wine glasses which are simply resting on the concrete floor; concrete here functions only as a surface, not as the all-encompassing force that contains Adam’s biographies for an infinity of time. Perhaps we can sense here Adam exposing himself to our eyes with a new-found tenderness. And as we, the viewers of his work, attempt to decipher the multiple facets of his hidden written novel, we become part of his practice of gleaning. Smoothly and yet in a spectacular way, we become part of his words whilst they constantly turn into sculptures.
Thanks to Vasiliki Sifostratoudaki - Director of Yellow Brick Studio - for her assistance with the residency and exhibition.
gleanwas supported by Regional Arts Victoria