The eccentric, surreal images of New York-based Lucas Blalock are products of both analogue and digital technologies. Using a large-format camera, he takes photographs of still lifes, domestic scenes, or, occasionally, portraits, that he scans and digitally modifies. Taking cues from Bertolt Brecht's advocacy for revealing the mechanics of theatre production, Blalock creates works that intentionally proclaim his skills on a computer—that declare his working process instead of hiding it.Read More
Ordinary objects are the primary protagonists of Lucas Blalock's work. He often edits these objects with an unsettling or crude sense of humour. In Boob bag (2014), for example, Blalock painted digitally over the buttons on a worn leather bag to allude to female breasts. Another print, A Physical Feeling (2014), leans towards the grotesque—the small circles that adorn the watermelon, upon closer inspection, turn out to be human fingertips.
The contradictions and calculated ham-fistedness in Lucas Blalock's work compel the viewer to reconsider conventional notions of photography as a documentary tool. In An Other Shadow (2014–2016), which shows a pink mat with gridded nodules propped up against the wooden back of a frame, he has added a second shadow on the opposite side of its natural shadow to create spatial confusion. Traces of digital manipulation are more immediately apparent in The Sleepers (2016), where the artist has Photoshopped a photograph of a bedroom over a large photo of a room with brick walls. On the superimposed wide white bed are two pink, vaguely human shapes, crudely drawn with a digital brush.
Lucas Blalock's experimentation with new digital technologies has included 3D modeling, such as in Donkeys Crossing the Desert. Presented at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, the billboard featured three different representations of a donkey: a photographic image; a sculptured rendition made with Photoshop's 3D tools; and a deflated blue shape in a curved elongated version of the animal. The artist also developed a mobile app for the work, which enabled it to be available in augmented reality during the Biennial.
Insoluble Pancakes—Lucas Blalock's solo exhibition of self-portraits at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2020)—offered a view of the range of techniques and styles he employs. Completed in 2019, the works were based on negatives of images captured successively; all feature the artist contorting his limbs in a chair. Each self-portrait is completely unique, while the background remains unchanged. In #1 de Selby (Gregor), Blalock appears almost completely obliterated, traces of his face floating in the air, while in #3 policeman (Wholly Holy) his body has been turned into a warped form with a metallic sheen, and in #11 Fox (Trapper) enveloped in a soft black cloud.
Selected solo exhibitions of Lucas Blalock's work include Lucas Blalock ... or, Or, Museum Kurhaus Kleve (2019); An Enormous Oar, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2019); A Farmer's Knowledge, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2015); and Inside the White Cube, White Cube, London (2013).
Lucas Blalock's work has been part of many notable group exhibitions. These include The Extreme Present—organised by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian—Moore Building, Miami (2019); Ordinary Pictures, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2016); Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015); and Part Pictures, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2015).
Institutions with collections featuring Lucas Blalock's work include the Dallas Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
Learning, like looking, takes time. It took until well into the 20 th century for photography to be fully accepted as art, longer for color work to make the cut. (People thought color belonged in advertising.) And it's only fairly recently, in the digital present, that hard lines separating photography from painting, sculpture and performance...