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Anthony Adcock

Anthony Adcock (b. 1987 Chicago, IL) blends his unique experiences working as a Local #1 Ironworker and as an artist to create works that explore the relationship between labor and value. Using hyper illusionistic trompe l'oeil painting, sculpture, and installation, he distorts the line between reality and perception to question the importance and relevancy of authorship.

Says Anthony about his work: "Much of my work walks the unpopulated intersection of hyperrealist painting and minimal sculpture; it's generally considered "minimal trompe l'oeil" painting by many. My current body of work explores the similarities between the Proto-Renaissance, specifically Giotto, and contemporary construction road signage. Using techniques and materials from the 1300s, I'm rethinking the language of signage and asking questions like 'what would Giotto do?' "

Anthony received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Chicago and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the American Academy of Art with a specialization in oil painting. His work has been published in New American Paintings, NewCity Art, The Examiner, and other publications. Anthony's work has been exhibited throughout the country in various galleries and venues including Art Miami, Volta, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, 21C Museum, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 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. He is also a member of the art collective "Post Humanity Group." Anthony works out of his studio in his hometown of Chicago.


Veneer, oil on panel


A Common Pine Board, oil on panel


Giotto's Way, oil on panel


A Cautionary Tale, 15x10, oil on panel


Interstate, 15x10, oil on panel


Forward, 15x10, oil on panel


Crossing, 15x10, oil on panel


Interstate, 15x10, oil on panel


Descent, 15x10, oil on panel


Figure, 15x10, oil on panel


Nope, oil on panel


Wrong Way, oil on panel


Arrow, oil on panel


The Muck, oil on panel


This Way, oil on panel


Grill, oil on panel


Anthony at a job site (photo courtesy the artist)


Traffic caused by construction seems to be absolutely unavoidable in Chicago. I, along with many, do not like traffic. There is a specific feeling one gets when that bright orange sign suddenly appears around the bend, warning drivers of the upcoming construction zone. This feeling of anger and brief panic is quickly replaced with illogical questions such as "why is this bridge under construction and why is it happening right now?" Eventually, the driver stuck in traffic accepts defeat and sits. At this point, when the vehicle is completely stopped, the driver can fully appreciate and experience the construction zone. One begins to see the colorful shapes and symbols through the job-site detritus and silica fog. Chromatic machines and florescent attire stand out amongst the grey. Aluminum signs adorned with hieroglyphics guide the drivers to safety. Similar to a pedestrian wandering on set during a movie production, the driver gets a glimpse of the construction process before being ushered away.

During a similar traffic experience, I noticed a five-sided construction sign that was nearly illegible due to the amount of dirt on the surface. At first glance, it reminded me of a Gerhard Richter squeegee painting with a grey/brown sludge pulled over a highly chromatic ground. However, after a minute or so, the grime on the surface of the sign began to look oddly figurative, inducing some degree of pareidolia; I immediately thought of Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna. Similar to the Giotto masterpiece from 1306, this road sign was large, five-sided, reflective, chromatic, symmetrical, and seemed to be conceptually charged (because of its illegibility). This found road sign was quickly becoming my favorite art piece of the year.

Gridlock is an exploration into the striking similarities between the Proto-Renaissance, specifically Giotto, and contemporary construction road signage. Using techniques and materials from the 1300s, I am reevaluating the language of signage and asking questions like "what would Giotto do?" Giotto might question the contemporary construction term "high-vis" (referring to the OSHA safety standards on visibility) and instinctively replace modern reflective material with 23.5 karat gold leaf, patented colors such as OSHA Blaze or Safety Orange, with Minimum or Vermillion. He might change the language, create new symbols, or even reconsider the very concept of a road sign. A master painter like Giotto would undoubtedly enhance such signs for everyone.

Looking through the lens of Giotto has led to an awakening of sorts within my painting practice; the lines between virtuosity, material knowledge, and conceptual art have blurred together, yielding cultural artifacts that contribute to contemporary art discourse. Road signs, like many things in our society, can perhaps be enhanced, challenged, and glorified by just looking through the lens at a different angle. Even something like a heavy traffic jam on a Friday night can be an enlightening experience if one peers through the right way.

- Anthony Adcock


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