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The heads that seem emerge from the thick broad strokes of paint that Locke lays down over dry hazy brushes on the panel’s surface, reveal the lustful yet simultaneously abject expressions on the figure’s faces.

This dichotomy of gestures and sumptuous content suggest how Francis Bacon described the importance of the interconnection of the painting’s image and the paint itself in his 1953 essay on the work of Matthew Smith.[iv] Locke’s portraits converge on the concept of looking, but his gestural variations in mark making expose the relationship of his practice to more basic bodily functions.[v] Facing the figure-like portraits—statuesque, leaning, diminutive, and imbued with gesture both in their three-dimensional forms and in the expressively painted faces of the men—the viewer’s perspective within the space changes.

In the past six years, the particular gesture of a man’s open mouth with his tongue hanging out has appeared exclusively within this greater context.

He employs this visual trope in order to explore aspects of the gaze and modes of looking exchanged between and among men.[iii] In these new works, there is something strikingly new about the way Locke presents the notion of looking; the portraits are away from or tangential to the wall and are supported in space by poles and pipes that Locke anchors into the surfaces and into panels and plinths that are placed onto the floor.

He presents a mode of looking that is supported by Julia Kristeva’s “notion of intertextuality” which “replaces that of intersubjectivity;” where the tangential force of Locke’s new works shift to “occupy the status of mediator, linking structural models to cultural (historical) environment.”[i] This notion of looking from a space of intertextuality evokes an unstructured, exteriorizing and evasive non-objective gaze that has the potentiality of being momentarily steadied amongst the tangential scatter within which Locke’s works function.

His sculptural portraits reside in the interstices between abstraction and figuration.This causes the viewer to have more of a participatory role in how they experience the works.The formal elements of the sculptural portraits are varied; some are tiny painted portraits that loom precariously atop multiple sections of one half-inch hinged steel piping, and look down onto the viewers; others are more closely associated with the spectator’s viewing height; while further portraits hover slightly above the ground creating the impetus to look down, thus casting our gaze downward.In the past, Locke portrayed the results of looking.In his single and group installations of portraits of men we look at them, they look at us, and at each other.

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