The work of Adam Dix (b.1967) explores the history of transmission, and wrestles with components of contemporary communication. His work brings together a world depicting community and ritual, whilst traversing the landscape of analogue and digital medias through a blend of traditional folk customs, religious ceremony and contemporary communication.
Coupling the contemporary instant-ness of a screen shot, with the slower historic ghostly feel of lithography, Adam Dix’s work is concerned with communication through the ages, the constant effort of humanity to come together, share, inspire, pass on our narratives. Humanity has communicated for millennia through illustrations, rituals, customs, choreography, music, writing, religion and symbolism in an attempt to understand one another. Pilgrimages to sites both known and unexpected are suggested in Dix’s paintings, religious ceremony is referenced. Costume, disguise and the borrowing and interpretation of symbols are prevalent. Timeframes are indistinct, in Dix’s work the present assimilates the residue of the past, we are left contemplating whether a scene is contemporary or historic.
Dix’ palette of muted colours, hazy imagery and subject matter, anchor the work in a time of historical optimism. Referring to the imagined futures of our predecessors his deployment of colour links the subject of contemporary technology to its 1950s origins. This has led to the production of work that invites the viewer to engage in a secular celebration, whilst questioning past and present forms of ‘social networking’.
Every painting consists of between 10-20 layers of thinly applied varnish and paint. Like a television screen these paintings can appear to ‘break up’ at close range but resolve into full focus from a metre or two away. After many weeks of pain staking planning and layering, these paintings, which start off as ghostly, slowly emerge. The immediacy of modern communication technology is countered by the slow nature of the process.
A recent series of work studies the history of the Mummers Plays. These were 18th century folk plays performed within communities, with characters in costume, nearly always men, performing simplistic plays, sometimes accompanied by musicians. Dix equates the life, death, rebirth attributes of these plays with modern video games, where characters can be resuscitated endlessly. If analogue entertainment was once about communicating, is digital communication now about entertaining?
On graduating with a Masters (Fine Art) from Wimbledon College of Art in 2009 Dix won the Jealous Art Prize Residency. Dix had previously studied Graphics and Illustration (BA) at Middlesex (2009) where he learned about print making, techniques which influence his painting to this day. Selected for Jerwood Drawing Prize (2013) and The Future Can Wait and Saatchi New Sensations (2011,2012). His work is part of prestigious collections including the Royal Collection of Monaco and the Zabludowicz Collection, London. Adam Dix is represented by Candida Stevens Gallery in the UK, Zedes Art Gallery in Belgium and Obsolete in Los Angeles.
With thanks to Leo at Rafiki Gallery, Adam Dix In Conversation