Melbourne artist Tom Adair’s neon style kicks off The Royals’ rolling art gallery.
It greets you as you finish your hike up the stairs to The Royals office in Melbourne – the neon glow of two art pieces by the super talented Tom Adair, that is. Mixing the subculture of the local graffiti scene with architecture and encased in perspex, the works use neon lighting to set off strangely familiar Australian scenes.
The artworks are the first to be shown as part of The Royals’ Rolling Gallery, which came about after a bunch of Royals starting chatting about inspiration in the workplace. With everyone being so busy so often, it can be tricky to take a breather and actually find a moment to think bigger. That’s where our Melbourne and Sydney galleries come in. Every quarter, The Royals will take a vote on who they would like to see featured from a selection of creative folk. Tom is kicking it all off.
We chose to launch our Royals Rolling Gallery with the Melbourne artist’s work for two reasons: firstly, we love Tom’s use of layering with airbrushing and neon – the specialist framing really tops of the dynamic aesthetic. Tom works with a hugely varied range of materials from Dibond, neon, timber and HDP foam to metal and glass, which gives his work a unique vibrancy.
The second reason? We wholeheartedly believe in supporting local artists and Tom’s studio is just down the road from us.
The idea for this type of work came from Tom’s push to work out his own style, something that wasn’t the “done to death”, in his words, stencil or graffiti on canvas. His first five or so years in the studio combined his love of seeing printed images on canvas, with graphic design and photography. But it was an old high school memory of Howard Arkley that got Tom back onto airbrush work.
“About eight pieces later I wanted to add another element, and I had some spare neon sections lying around so I screwed them to a finished piece. From there I knew the combination of techniques and mediums was something I could call my own,” he says.
And he wants the work to communicate the need for us to be less judgemental and more accepting in a life that is forever pursuing happiness through consumerism and the house we own or the car we drive.
“The architecture of scenes I depict in the halftone pattern is a motif for the relationship between what you see from the outside or from a distance versus what reality really is,” Tom says.
“When we (the viewer) get a little bit closer the perception (or image) deteriorates and its imperfections are exposed. In this way my work changes depending on where you view it from.”
Tom Adair’s work comes from an urban landscape where the spray can is king, and speed is most certainly your friend. His ability to make immediate, aesthetically strong paintings was honed in the world of graffiti.
A decade after leaving the brick and concrete walls of the streets for the studio, Adair’s work is an investigation of architecture and popular subculture.
Tom is far more interested in us, our relationship to the environment, and how a thirst for evolution and technology has changed us.
His hand drawing with the airbrush is fluid yet stripped back – a technical linage to Howard Arkley. The use of neon as a drawing tool abstracts and illuminates at once, literally electrifying the picture.
Tom works as a local artist in Cremorne (Dover St/Studio Sixnine) and lives in Richmond.