Glass takes a look at Callum Eaton’s Look but Don’t Touch exhibition

THERE was once a painting of a cash register so lifelike that an intoxicated viewer tried to interact with it. 

Like a hall of mirrors, Callum Eaton’s work is slick and unnerving and creates space for objects and places of familiarity to become exciting and uncomfortable. His debut solo show ‘Look but Don’t Touch,’ is open from the 17th of August until the 9th of September at Savile Row’s Carl Kostyál gallery.

Since his days at Goldsmiths (BA Fine Art, 2019), Eaton has dedicated himself to perfecting photorealism. His pursuit of illusionary excellence was fuelled further by the complete fooling of the aforementioned reveller taken in by his two-dimensional cash register.

Reaching out to tap in a PIN is the contemporary equivalent to the legend of 5th-century Ancient Greece, where the artist Parrhasius painted a curtain so realistically that his nemesis Zeuxis reached out to pull it – leaving Zeuxis humiliated and the loser in their competition to find the master of creating deceiving artworks. Over 2000 years later and Eaton is tossing his hat in the ring. 

Bollocks to Brexit, 2023, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 150 x 70 cm. Image Courtesy of Carl Kostyál and the Artist-min

Coke Addict, 2023, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 180 x 120 cm. Image Courtesy of Carl Kostyál and the Artist-min

Eaton’s London debut at Carl Kostyál showcases a considered and wide selection of street furniture and urban structures found littered around his hometown.

Through a critical lens on the growing commercialization of contemporary culture, Eaton’s art is in perfect form, but devoid of original or assumed function – everyday objects, like coin slots and keypads, take on the appearance of the readymade.

Their purpose comes under questioning and leaves the viewer to ponder in which form they have more value – as the intended three-dimensional functional object, or as the object only of the art lover’s gaze. 

Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned, 2023, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 210 x 210 cm. Image Courtesy of Carl Kostyál and the Artist-min

There is a canny positioning of the obsolete (street-side phone booths) next to the contemporary solutions to the insatiable consumption of humans (Coca-Cola vending machines, echoing Warhol’s similar use of repetition). 

Portrait of Callum Eaton. Photography by Brynley Odu Davies

Portrait of Callum Eaton. Photography by Brynley Odu Davies

The artist’s landscape, and his occupation of the landscape, are covertly interspersed throughout the collection. The elevators from Eaton’s studio in London’s financial district maintain traces of their previous role of ferrying professionals.

He emerges as a reflection in a launderette’s Washeteria door and as an image from a self-service photo booth. This blurs the boundaries between the tangible world he inhabits and the simulated surface of his canvases.

Portrait of Callum Eaton. Photography by Brynley Odu Davies

Callum Eaton’s ‘Look but Don’t Touch’ offers a unique perspective on the convergence of reality and artistry, inviting visitors to contemplate the interplay between the tangible and the painted.

by Phoebe Minson

For those interested in this exhibition, visit Carl Kostyál at 12A Savile Row, London W1S 3PQ. Further information can be found at

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