Art during COVID-19: Nanda\Hobbs brings Tom Adair’s ‘Chromatones’ exhibition to life via 3D virtual tour

Melbourne-based artist Tom Adair
Tom Adair

Acclaimed Melbourne-based artist Tom Adair will have his first solo show at Nanda\Hobbs in Sydney late this month. Titled ‘Chromatones’, this exhibition delves headlong into the 20th century modernist architectural icons—an era in American history where anything was possible.

Given the current climate, Chromatones will be exhibited virtually, with Nanda\Hobbs employing technology to enable art lovers to experience the exhibition in full effect—an artist talk via video, a 3D virtual tour of the exhibition and a digital exhibition catalogue—all ‘live’ from Thursday 30 April—online at

“When I turned my mind to writing about the work of Melbourne artist, Tom Adair—it was a different world. I was exploring the notion of a Utopian paradise.” Nanda\Hobbs Gallery Director Ralph Hobbs says.

“Now the world has changed. We live in a time of immense social, environmental and economic upheaval. In our brave new world of social distancing and lockdown, our existence is a far cry from the idealized, Arcadian vision of my mind.”

“Today, I look at Adair’s pop enthused exploration of the landscape through wistful eyes—searching for a time past. Yet there is an unswerving sense of joy and hope in his work. The optimism of his imagery plugs us directly into that time that was social, joyous and carefree. Throughout history, we have used the visual image as a source of comfort—a way to explain our existence and our place in the world.”

NandaHobbs Gallery Director Ralph Hobbs
Nanda\Hobbs Gallery Director, Ralph Hobbs

Using the ‘alien’ landscapes of the Joshua Tree National Park in the California desert as the hero, this show will be the largest body of work produced by Tom at any given time.

“This exhibition is an exciting step in my practice as I move away from working with neon and focus on the painting,” says Tom. “I’m excited to showcase this new direction and evolution that is painted in full-colour photorealism.”

What is the Chromatones exhibition about?

Chromatones will showcase 16 new works by Tom, following a three-week desert road trip between California and Arizona in the US. First photographing his topics, he then returned to Australia to paint them by hand using his signature dotted airbrush technique.

Drawing inspiration from the Hunter S. Thompson classic film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the paintings play on optical duplicity and superficiality. It is the first time Tom is showcasing his work with a new CYMK (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black) palette.

“The process of hand-replicating a CYMK technique — a method that relies on layered dots of color to form and image — lends itself to a hallucinogenic vividness and a sense of hyperreality that was inspired by the film and visiting Joshua Tree, a destination synonymous with psilocybin trips,” says Tom.

“It allowed me to focus more on exploring the mark-making and bringing the painting to the forefront of my practice”.

The bright colour palette, when combined with a modified printing method creates a purposeful distortion in the eyes of the audience.

“As you move around the painting, the image almost seems to flicker and appear distorted,” says Tom. “I play with illusion and viewing distance as a metaphor for appearance and oscillation between nature and technology.”

The Chromatones body of work continues Tom’s exploration of the themes of human connection to materialism, consumerism and our need to reconnect with nature. The juxtaposition of the pre-historic landscapes contrasted with modern architecture represent our connected, yet disconnected society.

Who is Tom Adair?

Tom Adair is an emerging artist who began his career in the subculture of the Melbourne Graffiti scene. He moved from the streets and into the Jardan design lab, working as a designer for four years while continuing a studio practice.

Turning to art full time in 2018, Tom has honed his signature aesthetic over many years. Tom’s aesthetic has been described by Ralph Hobbs of Nanda\Hobbs as “a fluid yet stripped back dotted airbrush technique, that has a technical linage to Howard Arkley, the seminal Melbourne Artist of the ’80s and ’90s.”

With exhibitions across the USA and Australia, Tom’s work has truly gone global. Private collectors across the States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have acquired work by Tom, and he continues to produce work for private commissions, public spaces and for group shows.