10 - 31 March 2018
Opening & Artist Talk on Saturday, 10 March 2018, 3 -5pm
Sullivan+Strumpf | Sydney

Sullivan+Strumpf is pleased to present Mercury, a major new body of paintings by Sam Leach. Leach's works are informed by art history, science and philosophy. He combines the poles of the metaphorical and the empirical, the analogous and the objective, in an ongoing investigation of the relationship between humans and animals. With a distanced, scientific approach, the artist draws connections between data visualisation techniques, semiotics, and formalist abstraction that results in a kind of reductive aesthetics.

"The Russian Cosmists believed in immortality and resurrection for all humanity. The ideas of Russian Cosmism, most famously formulated by Nikolai Fedorov in the late 19th Century included plans for technological development, including space travel, to achieve this goal of immortality. In the early 20th Century Fedorov's student, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, developed the mathematical equations and preliminary designs that were developed and applied to achieve the first human trips to space.

As the editorial of E-flux issue 88 pointed out, the humanist concern of Cosmism marks it as one of the threads of the englightenment. A thread which was cut short by stalin's purges. Since we now see a new era of space exploration in which private interests are funding and building the technology, it is timely to consider the origins of the project of space exploration. The aesthetics of the technology are determined largely, but not entirely, by function. It is this aspect of aesthetic choice in the design that interests me. I speculate that there is a connection between the legacy of the enlightenment found in the philosophy of the Russian Cosmists and the distinctive styles of spacesuits, helmets and associated technology. I want to draw a line connecting the constructed landscapes of the 17th and 18th Century, the utopian ideals of 20th Century formalist abstraction and the future implied by space exploration."

- Sam Leach on Mercury, 2018