Carl Kostyál will present ‘Look but don’t touch’, Callum Eaton’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery.
Following his solo exhibition ‘Hole in the Wall’ at Paris’ Long Story Short gallery early this year, where the artist presented a suite of super flat and functionless ATM machines, Eaton returns for a London debut featuring an expanded selection of the oft-overlooked street furniture and urban architecture that populate the artist’s hometown. Imbued with an acute awareness of conceptual art developed during his time at Goldsmiths and a wry critique of the ever-increasing commercialisation of contemporary culture and 21st-century society, Eaton’s artworks are self-referential to their own superficiality.
Inhabiting a world reduced to two dimensions, these everyday objects intended for our interaction – their coin slots, keypads and buttons eagerly awaiting use – appear rather as readymades. They retain their form but lose their function. Akin to the austere Constructivist art of the 20th-century Soviet Union in their objectification of industrial and urban design; Futurist monuments to the now-outdated modern marvels of the technological world or even entertaining that Formalist tendency to assess an artwork purely on its aesthetic appearance or visual construction. Geometric Abstraction, sans abstraction.
Street-side telephone boxes made all but obsolete by mobile phones and now regularly removed by councils and city planners remain as reliquaries to unrelenting digital advancement. Coca-Cola vending machines replete with Warholic repetition expose Eaton’s labour-intensive like-for-like replication of on-demand appeasement, while elevators from the artist’s own City of London located studio space retain eerie echoes of their former life ferrying bankers and business people. Employing that trompe-l’œil trickery popularised by French genre-painter Louis-Léopold Boilly – whose portrayal of overlaid sheets of paper was selected for the Paris Salon of 1800 – Eaton doggedly documents his everyday environment, each painting becoming a new piece of his Sims-esque city-building expansion pack.
And just as the artist is present in Jan van Eyck’s famed Arnolfini Portrait easter-egg or the secret self-portraits that Baroque-period painter Clara Peeters snuck into her still-lives, Eaton himself appears as both an apparition reflected in the door of a launderette’s Washeteria and the example images one might obtain from a Photo-Me self-service photo-booth. The artist as subject – as object perhaps – blurring the lines between the real world he inhabits, and the flattened substrata simulation that exists on the surface of each canvas. Hector Campbell, London 2023
Callum Eaton, LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH, 17th August – 9th September 2023, Carl Kostyál
Private view: Thursday 17th August 2023 6-8PM
About the artist
Callum Eaton (b. 1997, Bath, UK) lives and works in London. He completed his undergraduate study in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in 2019. This is his debut exhibition at Carl Kostyál. His work was included in ‘Hole in the Wall’, Another Gallery, Paris (2023), I DON’T NEED IT, BUT I WANT IT, The Office, Miami (2022), Breaking News, Another Gallery, Paris (2022), The Call, Hackney Down Studios, London (2021), Morrison Foerster, The Scalpel, London (2021), The Call, Exhibit 1, Sons Of Craft, Kunstraum Gallery, London (2020), Goldsmiths Degree Show, London (2019)