British artist Callum Eaton is staging his debut solo exhibition in London. Look But Don’t Touch brings together a number of his recent works, each of which are based on everyday surroundings and quotidian objects.
Known for his intricate still-life paintings, this series showcases Eaton’s interest in public technology – from the photo booth to the ATM machine. Each has been rendered in his signature photorealistic style, complete with minute details such as reflections in the glass and damaged metalwork.
Once viewed as fascinating technological breakthroughs, these pieces of street furniture and urban architecture have now mostly faded into obscurity, overshadowed by the allure of the digital age. Though still functional, our appreciation for them is largely non-existent, replaced by an insatiable hunger for the new.
Among the paintings are depictions of a self-service washing machine in a launderette; a vacant elevator in Eaton’s studio space in central London; an antiquated phone booth used as a dumping spot for an empty beer can; the type of photo booth often found in shopping centres; and several Coca-Cola vending machines, each at various stages of advancement, from the cash-only to the credit card-friendly to the credit card-only.
Viewed as such, these paintings feel like souvenirs of a passing era, memorialising the significance and subjective beauty of their everyday objects. Eaton has spoken in the past of his desire to preserve such cultural relics, and this desire is evident in Look But Don’t Touch.
Also evident is his desire to preserve his own image in this two-dimensional world. Upon closer inspection, we find Eaton’s face reflected in surfaces and captured in small photographs, blurring the lines between his reality and the fading one found in the objects he treasures.
Look But Don’t Touch is on show at Carl Kostyál gallery from August 17 – September 9; kostyal.com