Anthony Adcock blends his unique experience as a Local one Ironworker, collegiate instructor, and as an artist to create works that focus on the relationship between labor and value. Using hyper representational paintings, illusionistic sculpture, and short films, he distorts the line between reality and perception to question the importance and relevancy of authorship. His work has been published in New American Paintings, Newcity Art, the Examiner, and other publications. His artwork has been collected by 21c Museum, the Liechtenstein family, and many other private collectors, nationally and internationally. Anthonys work has been shown throughout the country in various galleries and venues, some of which have included Packer Schopf Gallery, Lovetts Gallery, Art Miami, Volta/Armory Show, the Union League of Chicago, and many others. He has contributed in performances for artist William Pope.L at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and at the Whitney Biennial. Currently, Anthony shows with Lyons Wier Gallery in New York. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the American Academy of Art with a specialization in oil painting where he is now serving as a full-time faculty member. Anthony teaches as a part-time instructor at the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio. He works out of his studio in his hometown of Chicago.
The job of the reinforcing ironworker, colloquially known as a Rodbuster, is to assemble specific structures, designed by architects and engineers, with reinforcing steel bars known as rebar. The foreman ironworker transcribes the structural blueprints to surrounding materials, such as the plywood floor or walls, for the other journeymen ironworkers to read. The Ironworkers follow this transcription as closely as possible, creating an intricate web of steel, only to be covered in concrete, concealing the work. After the concrete has cured, the laborers strip the wooden forms from the concrete, revealing what is left of the foremans markings. I use these found markings, and other objects found on construction sites, to generate artwork that bridges the gap between labor unions and art, and to question certain connotations that surround construction workers.
I have taken a minimalistic route with Trompe loeil painting that has led me to create frameless paintings that function similarly to the original objects the paintings mimic. The paintings resemble common flat surfaces, including dusty planks of wood, rusty sheets of steel, slabs of concrete, and other commonly used building materials found on construction sites. The surfaces are full of indexical information accumulated from hours or years of labor, use, and reuse. This information, created by individual workers, obstructs the surface. This obstruction causes the paintings to seem depthless, reducing the surface to an abstraction of marks. Giving the work the capacity to mediate, the neutral and depthless surfaces allow the paintings to live in both hyper-representational and minimal worlds. As the paintings become more meticulous, the subjectivity becomes more minimal, pushing against each other to the point of cancellation. The illusionistic quality allows the paintings to be viewed as sculptures, which brings the viewer to consider the work as found objects or ready-mades. Instead of highlighting facture, the representational paintings question authorship and production, leaving the viewer to question the significance and function of the perceived objects.
The installation of the work is relatively site-specific, as it varies on the functionality of the paintings and the aesthetics of the space. For example, a painting of a wooden surface may be hung on a wall, installed as a shelf for objects to be placed on, set on the floor for viewers to walk on, or used in any other way that mimics the properties and uses of wood. The painting then becomes a usable material, not a mere reflection of that material. The objects function and specificity of placement encourages the viewer to interact with the work. For example, a painted QR code on a surface is functional and scan-able, linking the viewer to a digital video, sound piece, or text. The embedded web links may provide further information about the work to the viewer. I also tend to present sculptures, drawings, films, or found objects alongside the paintings. This tends to transform the surrounding objects into paintings and adds productive confusion to the installation. The installation generally mimics arrangements of objects found on construction sites. Therefore, the process of viewing the artwork generates a similar experience to viewing artifacts left by a construction worker, similar to an archeologist excavating a site.
The paintings may require hundreds of hours of work only to be passed over by viewers, mistaking them for actual objects. Similarly, high-rise buildings require years of work by hundreds of workers, only to have them go unnoticed on a daily basis, with no credit given to individual workers. A bridge will be attributed to the architect with hardly any mention of anyone else, while a feature film will mention every last person. Working as an artist and previously as a Local One Ironworker, I struggle to understand why workers are acknowledged in one case and not the other.