Liam Fallon’s (b.1995) artworks can be seen as visual “phenomena” that embed the potential to influence the viewer’s experience in various creative ways. The Manchester-based artist has developed a sculptural language that puts an emphasis on how visual art is able to provide uplifting aesthetic expression. In his sculptural artworks, Liam Fallon usually concentrates on personal views to investigate the phenomenology of the aesthetic experience and the happenings of life. An important bond is created between the inner self of the viewer and the realistic or psychological forces developed in order to embody consciousness. Challenging the viewer’s perception and the significance of the sculpture, Fallon presents his artworks as ambiguous signifiers rendering the necessary opportunities to build a new set of conditions.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Contemporary sculptural entities usually bring erratic interpretations because of their abstract form and meaning. Such sculptures reveal a hybrid character that favours an epistemological point of view stimulating the viewer’s perceptual capabilities. Dealing with different materials, such as plaster, steel or jesmonite, Fallon aims to examine the concept of materiality in his work. His body of work, for example Wide Open, 2018, I’ll keep dancing on my own, 2017, or Boys keep swinging, 2017, presents a joyful combination of colours, mixed materials and uncanny shapes; all highlighting the allure of his perceptual paradoxes. Fallon’s sculptures re-create a remarkable appearance of Pop Art underlying a subversive maturity, along with mischievous undertones evoking queer, joyful and eerie notions. The artist seems to utilise industrial aesthetics in his approach to merge together unexpected materials with bright colours. Although the industrial feel is often reminiscent of more neutral colours and a palette of mixed grey tones, Fallon challenges these rigid forms. He spices up their identity and mechanic ambiances with sharp-witted sensations and queer aesthetics.
Contemporary conceptual artworks, as such in Fallon’s artistry, do not interpret sculptures as prosaic or flat structures, but rather feature a developing process in relation to the viewer that connotes additional cultural meanings beyond the artist’s first intentions. The artist also gives titles that seem to elaborate the artworks’ significance and concept, while his sculpture forms convey visual strength and a unique structural movement; all equally defining the sculptural result and its dynamics. The given titles are representative of the artist’s everyday influences; books, films or songs. Space often matters, too, and could affix alternative interpretations on the viewer. The spatial position or architecture can mediate more visual impacts raising different creative associations. Moreover, the British artist’s thought-provoking work seems to embrace an artistic approach that does not rely only on the development or construction, but its potential can be perceived more broadly. The idea of materiality draws great attention in Fallon’s practice, while its semiotic dimension reflects materialistic, as well as symbolic, emphasis. In his work, Fallon attempts to correlate ideas of labour, masculinity and industry with materiality suggesting further explanations and engagements with his material deployment, unconventional language and social mediation.
Born in Stoke on Trent, UK, Liam Fallon (b. 1995) lives and works in Manchester. In 2017 he completed a BA in Fine Arts from the Manchester Metropolitan University. His works has been exhibited in various art galleries around the UK and South Korea. Recently, the British artist installed an art commission at Selfridges Exchange Square in Manchester. He was the recipient of the Manchester School of Art Alumni Prize, 2017, and the Manchester Academy of Fine Art Graduate Award, 2017. The artist also won the Lim Ai Fang award taking the 2nd place in the Woon Foundation Prize.
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Liam Fallon: I’d say that each piece of work is different and I tend to use a lot of different processes. In some of the earlier works, there are many elements made up of different materials and techniques which means that I have quite a lot of things on the go at once- I’ll be cutting or drawing whilst jesmonite or rubber sets and trying to compartmentalise and visualise the works before its put together and before I run into any issues. Due to there being lots of different parts, I have to fully draw out every single piece including attachments, layers, angles and measurements before the physical making actually begins and its only when I’m happy with that aspect of it that I can then fully commit to the making of it. Casting also plays a major part in the works, whether that be laminating or making moulds, it enables me to control the materials as much as possible and to work them to the ideas and visuals that I’ve got.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
LF: Simulation, carnal and levity.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
LF: Sculptors particularly from the 60’s always appear as references in my work but a list of artists which I can pull off of the top of my head are Richard Artschwagger, Matthew Barney, Fischli and Weiss, Elmgreen and Dragset, and Cady Noland. However, more recently I’ve been obsessed with Robert Gober, Daniel Boccato, Monika Zawadski and Cosima von Bonin.
AV: Working with different physicalities, objects and materials such as plaster, steel or jemonite, does it feel like on continuous challenge to explore the idea of materiality in your shows?
LF: Very much so! In my first year at Manchester School of Art, my tutor at the time told me to choose a material and learn how to handle it. It was by pushing the limitations and using tools which meant that I could manipulate it and control to how I had imagined which then got me thinking more so about materiality and almost stripping its characteristics away until it appears to be imitating something completely different. Earlier in the year I read Robert Gobers essay in Artforum in which he talks about Donald Judd and Carl Andre and it was when he compared and broke down the 2 different features of their work that the position and relevance that making and materiality has in my practice really stood out. He spoke of Andres work as being the same on the front, back, bottom etc and then Judds being something completely different- his work appears to be exactly as it is but to achieve that, it needs to undergo some stagecraft and formal depiction. There is a masculine bluff about it which makes it endearing and complex and I think that summed it up perfectly as to what I try to achieve in the work.
AV: Taking into account the art statement in your degree show at Manchester School of Art you mention that you are interested in exploring queer culture through the materials that you utilise. Could you elaborate on this? Is this an ongoing art idea that characterise your sculptural practice till today?
LF: Somewhat yes, I’d say that is still accurate- especially about queer culture. I never fully set out to specifically explore queer culture, my main interest is phenomenology and the happenings of life; whether this be happiness, sadness, love and where we find it and as a gay man its always going to have a queer narrative because its completely subjective in the sense that it is from my perspective. A major thing that I constantly consider is both the semiotics and the qualities of the materials whether that be tactile or colour etc. by understanding these elements of the materials you can really subvert an object and manipulate its narrative but since reading this essay by Gober, its made me think about objects and materials in a completely new way.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
LF: I share a studio with 7 other people, the majority of whom I studied with at Manchester School of Art. It is our own space in an old Victorian Mill and it is just a really great environment. It is all open plan which means that the space can be manipulated and changed depending on people’s requirements at the time. Immediately after graduating, it was hard trying to find my feet and trying to work out how to actually make without a workshop but over the course of the past year and a half, we have acquired enough equipment to make almost anything so in that sense, my studio space and friends that I share it with, make working in there absolutely ideal. I feel that without this level of understanding and common ground, it would have an impact on my production especially in terms of ambition and scale.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
LF: Elmgreen and Dragsets show at the Whitechapel- I’ve heard mixed reviews from people particularly about the costing of the show but all of that aside, I found it really special and important to experience it. In terms of sentimentality within my own work, they have had a major impact in that respect, so it wasn’t something that I was going to miss.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
LF: My work is very much so driven by a narrative of some sorts and it varies as to whether it’s just a slight influence or massively influences/controls the work so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my audience to leave without learning something. However, all that aside, I learnt about mirror neurons and the ways in which they work in audience’s mind to convince people that they’ve also experienced something which belongs to the narrative, so I think it’s also important for me that people experience something a little transcendental.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
LF: My mum is a huge fan as are all of my family! No one is from a particularly artistic background as such so the narrative and concepts get a little lost with them, but I do come from a family of makers- my dad and uncles all being builders and my grandma was a caster for the pottery company Wedgewood.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
LF: Morning every time! By about 9 p.m I need a bit of a charge. The majority of my admin either gets done in the evenings or on lunch breaks. I find that anything that needs to be made with a great deal of attention isn’t going to be done well enough in the evening, so I focus on the easier things in the evenings to then just naturally wind down.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
LF: I recently applied for an MA so fingers crossed that it goes to plan. I also will be installing my first commission and have a few shows later in the year with the first opening soon at Selfridges in Manchester and then my solo show ‘Supersymmetry’ which opens in July and is curated by Matthew Retallick. As for after that? Hopefully a holiday!
© All images are courtesy of the artist