Adam Handler (b.1986)
Being a biographical painter, my work has always been a mirror of the events that have taken place in my life. My pieces are a reflection of personal events which have transpired as well as influences from those around me and the artists who have inspired me. I have been intrigued by many artists and have been correlated to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Willem De Kooning. While I have a great respect and admiration for these artists, I also believe my work is rooted in a more modern sensibility. Artists including Henri Matisse, Paul Gaugin and Constantin Brancusi have been as equally important in the development of my work and artistic inspirations. What attracted me to Matisse’s work was his ability to create an image that was direct and able to be viewed either with or without a narrative. Matisse’s ability to construct simple figures, objects and patterns within the canvas made me rethink what was possible in painting. Many of my works display figurative images of women. These works have progressed from a rougher and more expressionistic form to a simpler narrative and I continue to explore my relationship with these figures time and again, never loosing interest. A figure with rosy cheeks painted on a simple background has become so influential for me that I have been exploring this relationship and composition for many years. I believe it is both the simplicity of composition as well as my own personal relationship to my wife that has resulted in seemingly endless possibilities.
It was most probably after viewing the works of Basquiat, Donald Baechlor and Bill Traylor that I discovered such a love of simple subject matter. While many of their subjects were not unique, they had been reinvented time and time again. It was then that I attempted to brand my own style which expressed my individual character. Playing with scale, whether very large or very small, I pay an ode to line, color and form. They are humble offerings to the now overlooked beauty of time old subjects; a flower in a garden or a reclining figure and cat. Repetition in subject matter has allowed me personal exploration of my own iconography while also allowing the viewer to form its own dialogue with the piece.
The figure, which has been represented since people were embellishing cave walls, has been the one constant in my work. Willem De Kooning’s works were the first pieces I viewed which resulted in that “ah-ha” moment. It led to the realization that a figure does not have to look like a figure but can rather reflect the sensibilities, emotions or qualities of one; that expression does not have artistic rules but rather should leave one open to interpretation. Once that realization was made, anything became possible and my work became a true reflection of my passions.