NEAL ROCK

WORKS | STORY



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Neal Rock's portrait

Neal Rock’s work demonstrates a committed exploration of the limits of painting physically, pictorially and through its relationship to the human body. In this latter aspect, bodily form is considered through a silicone paint medium that has been constant in his work since graduate school - a material that Rock sees as befitting our present age.

 

INSPIRATION

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Rock’s work grew out of debates in the 1990s surrounding conditions of painting that hybridise its histories and materiality with installation, sculpture, applied arts and architecture, amongst others. His more recent work centers on prosthetics - as a form of bodily modification - in how painting and its manipulation by bodily action can inform how we perceive ourselves. Rock’s work offers a perspective that depth and complexity can happen all on the surface of things, at once a philosophical exploration of self and a symptom of the plastic, overtly fabricated and designed environments within which many people exist.

 

VISION

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Counter to the accepted idea that artists ‘express themselves’, Rock envisages an entirely different role for painting and art more broadly today. In an age where commerce and advertising have absorbed the notion of the creative individual, painting offers not a glimpse into the life and identity of the artist, but rather throws the question back to the consumer. What are we looking at, for what reasons, and to what extent can we be suspended in not knowing either what category of object we see but also, reciprocally, how are we positioned in relation to objects we have no apparent use for?

 

PAST PROJECTS

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Rock’s work came to prominence in the early 2000s with extruded silicone confections that inhabited gallery walls in fragmentary wall installations and assemblages. He has exhibited extensively across Europe and the US at venues such as the ICA, London; Royal Academy of Art, London; Albright Knox, Buffalo NY; Contemporary Art Museum Houston. His work was included in the 2007 Jerwood Contemporary Painters; 2014 John Moores Painting Prize; 2015 Bloomberg New Contemporaries; 2016 XL Catlin Art Prize.

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

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After recently completing a residency at MASS MoCA in the USA, Rock is developing a new body of work that focuses on the subtractive process of destroying pictorial imagery from screen-printed digital files. These images are at once pattern, image and surface and Rock is interested in exploring the relationship between image destruction and form creation. What has been termed ‘process’ in painting Rock sees more simply as time. The qualities of time and actions undertaken in his work refer to the final object / painting as simply a resting place - a sedimentation of effects and bodily actions through time.

 

FUTURE PROJECTS

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Understanding painting as both object and image holds a central concern for Rock. He is looking to elaborate on this further whilst working on the publication of his PhD thesis, completed at the Royal College of Art in January 2017. Through his studio practice, research and writing, Rock is looking to further explore what he terms, a prosthetic condition of painting. His current research looks to the motion capture technology of the Gilbeths and specifically the research Lillian Gilbreth undertook in medical, bodily prosthetics.