Lonney White: Dark Materials

Published in Neue Luxury, Issue 6, Sep 2016.

It was during his high school years in Montana that Lonney White became “confused by the trendiness of colour” and shunned the palette entirely from his sartorial identity. He was instead solaced by the timeless allure of monochrome, with the stylistic code since creeping into his aesthetic as a neo-minimalist painter, sculptor and furniture designer.

“Everything I do in my art and in my life is monochromatic,” the artist reveals over the phone from Chicago—where he is now based. “I feel that the artwork I make, the clothes I wear, and the furniture and objects in my home, should all speak the same language; they should all agree with one another. Monochrome allows for that.”

Guided by an intuitive current, White uses the techniques of moulding, fusing and spilling to transform metal, bronze, steel, concrete and wax into pieces that bring to mind extraterrestrial surfaces and flattened exoskeletons. During the sculpting and pouring process, the artist often welcomes the “erratic behaviours” carried by these mercurial elements, and chooses to expose, instead of smooth over, the indentations, holes and other surprises that may surface.

“It’s more enjoyable for me when I’m not at odds with my materials,” he explains. “At first, I have a gesture of what might happen with my work … but sometimes the bronze may not cast perfectly, or the metal will move in the opposite direction to what I anticipated. I learnt early on not to over-finesse things, or to fight with materials and force them to be perfect. I’m more interested in embracing the capabilities of these materials, and leaving no room for embellishment or artifice.”

“My materials are sourced from all sorts of places,” White says of his Frankenstein assemblage. For his bronze fabrications he uses a local foundry called West Supply, while a different supplier provides the metal alloys for his paintings, and another for his steel. This year he visited a sheep farm outside of Chicago to source wool for his wet-felting.

While he describes his works as “subdued and non-representational”, with primitive titles devoid of fanfare, he enjoys hearing the Rorschachian thoughts offered by viewers. “Someone recently told me my paintings looked like sea lily fossils,” which he says is plausible, given the works resemble relics “once alive” due to an animated molten process.

White studied painting and sculpture at the University of Montana, and at one time sold his car so that he could afford to experiment with bronze (he ended up creating a desk entirely from the material). In 2008, he relocated to Chicago to expand his interest in interior architecture and furniture design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He experimented on pieces of various compositions and scales, from ornamental bronze-casted spill-offs, to metal-swatted milky wax paintings spanning a 20 foot sculpture caked in steel and concrete. This oscillation between disciplines is a response, he says, “to this contemporary moment where people are hungry for artwork that traverses vocational boundaries.”

The above text is an excerpt.
Read the full feature in Neue Luxury.

LMD Studio.

Image: Sculpture made from steel and bronze, displayed at the home of Lonney White and Lukas Machnik. Image by Jack Shneider.