Australian artist Sam Leach, who received his Bachelor of Economics from Adelaide University in 1993, is interested in how wealth is communicated through architectural spaces. There is often an ambiguous attitude towards the pursuit of wealth, and a sense of alienation in its presence. In contemporary culture, corporate spaces must balance a healthy display of success without being too overbearing or excessive in the eyes of the visitor. Several interior features have come to be seen as “corporate,” such as halogen lights, brushed steel elevator doors, and polished beech boardroom tables.
This same ambiguity towards wealth is seen in 17th-century Dutch still life painting, which is full of symbolic references to mortality, wealth, and corruption, including skulls and spoiling luxury foods. Sam Leach, who also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from RMIT in 2003 and is in the process of completing his Master of Arts (Fine Arts) at RMIT, combines his economic and artistic interests in his exquisite still life paintings for the Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art show titled Negentrophies. He chooses preserved game animals, insects, skulls, and other objects indicative of wealth as his subject matter.
The artist states he is “investigating how the aesthetics of corporate space convey attitudes towards wealth and power using the conventions and principles of Dutch painting as a frame of reference.” The artist paints darkly lacquered, fascinatingly detailed and hauntingly beautiful images of animals and relics. Meticulous attention is paid to each subject, echoing the fine calibration seen in nature. He encases each painting in a layer of glossy resin, recalling the glossy expanses of polished stone seen in corporate spaces. Through exquisite lighting and compositional simplicity, Leach evokes the transience of life and wealth. Leach was voted one of the ’50 Most Collectable Artists’ by Australian Art Collector magazine in 2007 and 2008. The exhibition Negentrophies will be showing at Sullivan+Strumpf Fine Art in Sydney from March 18 – April 6, 2008.