'A Divine Corruption'

Review by Alex Beckinsale

 Luke Phillips,  Ghetto of the Mind , 2017, linen digital print

Luke Phillips, Ghetto of the Mind, 2017, linen digital print

A Divine Corruption is an exhibition of photographic and digitally altered images by Luke Phillips, currently being displayed at Paddy’s Lantern as part of this year's SALA festival. This show presents the viewer with a ‘macabre aesthetic composition accompanied with geometric glitch’[1]. The opening of this show did not take place at Paddy’s Lantern, however, but across the picturesque Gilbert street at the architectural firm Swanbury Penglase

Of course, my GPS wouldn’t recognise the address for either venue on the opening night and refused to tell me just where on Gilbert street I needed to go. As I drove (very slowly) down the street, I could make out a well lit interior containing crowds of milling people through the windows of one of the buildings. The characteristic way people stood, appraising artwork on the walls whilst sipping glasses of wine suggested that this was likely to be my destination. I figured that, even in the unlikely case that this was not the right event, I was probably still going to be walking into some kind of art opening and hopefully not a company meeting. As I climbed the few short steps to the doors I caught glimpses of Phillips’ characteristic work. I had only seen an image of his in the SALA guide, but this alone had given me a good idea of what to look for. 

The large atrium space was filled with people and animated conversations pervaded the room. Their lively discussions contrasted with the quiet, monochromatic nature of the digitally distorted imagery hanging on the walls. 

 The floor sheet and promotional postcard for  A Divine Corruption .

The floor sheet and promotional postcard for A Divine Corruption.

The majority of the work was displayed in an area that was slightly separated from the main entryway. The large prints utilised a limited and primarily dark colour scheme. Most of the works were figurative, ranging from classical art imagery that had been altered and distorted, to a series of less recognisable photographic manipulations.

The first image the viewer was greeted with in the space was a manipulated version of the Mona Lisa. While the alterations gave the iconic image a refreshing edge, the classical painting felt slightly out of place in the context of the other, more contemporary imagery. The more photographic and contemporary works of Philips felt stronger in comparison. There seemed to be something more honest and more haunting in these images, creating moments of ghostly interaction between the viewer and the artwork.

I decided that to better appreciate the show I should return to Gilbert Street later and visit Paddy’s Lantern, to see the work where it would be shown for the majority of the SALA festival. 

 Luke Phillips,  Untitled , 2017, linen digital print

Luke Phillips, Untitled, 2017, linen digital print

The venue itself was light and airy, the white rendered walls caused the high contrast prints to stand out well in the space. The larger room also allowed each individual piece to be displayed without the neighbouring work fighting for the viewers attention. 

I would strongly recommend a visit to the vibrant cafe space as part of a CBD art crawl. Luke Phillips’ body of work compliments the aesthetic of the venue beautifully and certainly affords Paddy’s Lantern that characteristic SALA energy. Besides, what could be better than stopping off for a good cup of coffee while simultaneously getting to look at beautiful local art?

[1] 2017 SALA guide, p. 13

Key Details:
Exhibition Title: 'A Divine Corruption'
Artist: Luke Phillips
Venue: Paddy's Lantern (219 Gilbert Street, Adelaide)
Dates: 7th August - 31st August (Monday - Friday 7am - 3pm)