Every now and again there pops up an artist who shows an incredible quiet audacity in their approach to both concept and material. They often work on a small scale, employing involved, repetitive processes, everyday objects and humble materials. They create artwork that is a little bit cheeky, a little amusing, impossibly sad and at once about nothing and everything.
Adam Veikkanen is one such artist. He blew me away with his work in the ANU School of Art Graduate Exhibition last year, and he has done it again in his first solo show – Stumped at ANCA. Although I visited the show a fortnight ago it’s one I haven’t been able to shake from my mind.
At Veikkanen’s hand, things that shouldn’t work, do: like a ball of spent staples, like a drawing made entirely from fingerprints, like a sheet on paper emblazoned with a single word.
He certainly shows a great fondness for text. Pure gold leaf pressed into a sheet of rag paper spells out ‘something special’, gilding the most basic and hardest working of artistic materials. The surface of another paper is nearly completely obscured by markings from a black ball-point pen – the only gaps visible form the words ‘Black Out’, at once announcing and defeating the artist’s intent. Upon the wall, a tiny pink fluorescent sign illuminates the word ‘Cool’, its wiring laid bare and pathetic, a feeble statement or misdirected verdict.
Perhaps most incredibly, entire books have been reduced to skeletal objects. Pages have been sliced away and reduced into volumes of only a selected word; tiny fragments of text, quivering on delicate tendrils that remain extended from the publication’s spine.