These are not your typical vending machines; instead, they are captivating acrylic paintings meticulously depicting the façades of vending machines. This striking collection is the brainchild of Callum Eaton, unveiled in his inaugural solo exhibition titled “Look but don’t touch,” presented by the esteemed art curator Carl Kostyál.
This follows Eaton’s previous solo show, ‘Hole in the Wall,’ held earlier this year at Long Story Short Gallery in Paris. In that exhibition, the artist showcased a series of ultra-flat and non-functional ATM machines. Now, Eaton makes his debut in London with an extended collection, which focuses on the often unnoticed street fixtures and urban structures that define his hometown’s landscape.
Callum Eaton’s artistic journey has been one marked by an unwavering dedication to achieving photorealistic perfection, a pursuit that has its roots in his formative years at Goldsmiths, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2019. It was during one of his early open studio gatherings that he bore witness to a remarkable and somewhat perplexing incident. A visitor, perhaps under the influence of intoxication or simply captivated by the lifelike portrayal of a conventional cash machine, made a futile attempt to interact with the two-dimensional representation. This incident, reminiscent of the legendary tale of Zeuxis and Parrhasius, ancient masters of artistry locked in a captivating duel of illusion, encapsulates the essence of Eaton’s work.
In the ancient tale, Parrhasius famously outwitted Zeuxis by creating a painting of a curtain so convincing that Zeuxis, in his attempt to draw it aside, realized he had been deceived by a mere artwork. Similarly, Eaton’s creations serve as a contemporary reflection of artistic deception. His masterful renditions of vending machine exteriors draw viewers into a realm where the boundaries between reality and artistry blur, inviting them to question the authenticity of what they see before them.
Through “Look but don’t touch,” Callum Eaton not only showcases his exceptional talent in replicating reality through acrylic paintings but also invites us to ponder the intriguing relationship between art and reality. These vending machine fronts, so lifelike yet untouchable, challenge our perception of the tangible world, echoing the age-old artistic conundrums that have fascinated minds throughout the centuries.
Where: Londoners or art lovers visiting soon can see Eaton’s Look but Don’t Touch exhibit at Carl Kostyál Gallery until September 9.