Sam Falls came to art through the study of physics, linguistics and philosophy. Inspired by the natural world, he creates artworks that explore the materiality of colour and light. Using a range of generic objects and textiles, such as garden hoses, tyres, wooden pallets, bed sheets and moving blankets, and exploiting the aesthetic potential of weather patterns and environmental conditions, Falls employs photographic techniques to create works that investigate the opposing ideas of abstraction and representation.
Continuing his exploration of materials, techniques and processes, Falls presents a series of large-format works on canvas for the 21st Biennale of Sydney at Carriageworks. Often created outside in the urban or natural landscape, the scale of Falls' artworks is influenced by and connected to the places they are made. Using fundamental image-making techniques, Falls transforms large swathes of canvas into abstract landscapes that carry echos of the environment in which they were produced. His 'rain paintings' are essentially photograms; a negative shadow image transferred to a surface without the use of a camera. Falls covers expanses of canvas with organic matter - branches, leaves and flowers that are particular to an area - before scattering the assemblage with handfuls of pigment and leaving it exposed to the elements. After the intervention of mist or rain and the removal of the organic material, the residual silhouettes and patterns imprinted on the canvas retain the physical qualities of place.
While the artworks exemplify Falls' fascination with colour and light, and advance his investigations into figuration and abstraction, the canvases also display an intimate connection with location and landscape. The paintings exhibited at Carriageworks were created at Falls' childhood home in the town of Hartland, Vermont, USA, each artwork produced at a site of personal significance to the artist, reflecting his memories of growing up in the area. The plant matter and organic materials Falls uses to create his works articulate the meteorological and environmental conditions inherent to the region, thus each canvas serves as a location and time-specific record of the natural world, as well as a personal archive of place.
As the realities of a global climate emergency begin to sink in, the well-heeled visitors to this year's Art Basel fair can expect to see work that reflects the concerns of the world outside–at least to a certain extent. 'Studies show that the wealthier you are, the bigger your carbon footprint, so it's great that we are now seeing this addressed...