Louis Grant’s practice explores the paradox of internal and external self-expression within a queer context. In his work, Grant searches for his authentic voice and exploring the delicate balance of ‘performance of self’ and the suppression of ‘true self’. He focuses on theories of unbecoming, unmaking and undoing through the ‘queer art of failure’ to strip back the performance of self to find his authentic, raw and nuanced voice. Using these concepts, Grant pairs back materials to their most pure honest form which allows glass to be both fragile and strong.
Through this deconstruction of process, the artist begins to create a material voice that, much like his queer self, is outside the norm. Glass is scientifically an amorphous solid, neither liquid nor solid glass is another type of matter. A fluid medium that is constantly becoming; continually at the sublime precipice of neither “this” nor “that”, it is outside of the binary definition. Grant considers glass, as material, to be queer.
Activated by the viewer, Grant’s work attempts to draw you in, to interrogate the minimal forms or engulfing viewers as they become part of the work. Scratches, colour inconsistencies, bubbles within the glass and the materials surfaces illuminate the inherent qualities of glass, deconstructing and amplifying the truth of the medium which is authentic in its position as non-binary and beautiful in this supposed imperfection. The use of neon lights harness the transformational quality of light, charging the atmosphere and consuming all that comes into contact with it.
The works act as an insight into the queer experience with notions of love, loss, celebration, desire, shame, nostalgia and melancholy.
Louis Grant is a queer emerging artist whose work seamlessly crosses between studio glass and inter-disciplinary practice. He recognises the importance of traditional craft skills and uses them to push the boundaries of both glass making and contemporary sculpture.
Graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Visual Art (Honours) from the Australian National University School of Art and Design, Grant works professionally within the Canberra arts community and as an independent studio artist.
A residency at Canberra Glassworks, awarded through the ANU Emerging Artist Support Scheme, has been pivotal in Grant further developing his material voice.
Grant has exhibited nationally and internationally, having been selected for Hatched National Graduate Show 2019 at PICA, the Klaus Moje Glass Award 2019 at Canberra Glassworks, National Emerging Art Glass Prize (Highly Commended) 2020 at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, and Talente 2022 at Internationale Handwerkmesse Munich.
Grant presented his first solo exhibition; Breakable Heaven, at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in 2022, with support from ArtsACT to produce new sculptural work, followed by awash shown at UNSW Galleries.
Grant lives and works on Ngunnawal and Ngambri land, known as Canberra.
so I’ll say words I don’t believe explores an intimate theme of being wanted. It encompasses ideas of longing, desire, validation and acceptance, both internal and external. Using groups of objects and plains of colour placed together to create unison or tension, depending on their location, tone or finish. The works presented span multiple glass making techniques, combining textures, weights, forms and opacities in multiple modular elements, creating balance, imbalance, flirtation, provocation and speculation.
This exhibition expands on previous bodies of work which explores the amorphous material of glass and its connection to queer concepts. Glass is a fluid medium that is constantly becoming; continually at the sublime precipice of neither “this” nor “that”, it is outside of the binary definition. The modular mode of art making allows Grant to celebrate and play with colour and form while simultaneously creating points of tension to relationships, site and future possibilities.
Louis Grant, February 2023