Vancouver’s Adam Lupton is currently releasing some of the most magnificent material I have seen in some time. Many of the themes in his pieces relate to the human condition and our innate tendency to overanalyze, brood, or falter when confronted with choice.
Adam’s work does an outstanding job of depicting the social and psychological intricacies of isolation, anxiety, and loneliness and by communicating these ideas in a very grounded and relatable fashion, the images translate into an emotionally hefty viewing experience. There is something mesmerizing about the individual “framing” of each moment captured within his pieces. The very quantum “time lag” aesthetic meshes well with the fluid oil paints that Adam has chosen to immortalize his craft. The paint itself even manages to flirt with symbolic expression as the silky oils mimic the fluid and amorphous nature of time itself.
In this interview, I wanted to learn more about why time (and it’s relationship with mental health) are so prominent in his works.
Prox: What was it like for you in the beginning of your artistic journey? Do you remember what sparked your interested? How has Vancouver contributed to your tastes?
Adam: As with most people, I've always sort of 'done' art, it's just surfaced in different capacities. From being a kid, to going through design school, to coming back around to painting, I've always had a knack for creating things. Most recently though, with regards to painting, it's been a lot more trying. To really hunker down and pursue it is a lot different than having it as a side project, which is what it was more of before. I get told my palette is quite 'grey', so I suppose I attribute that to my colour-blindness and Vancouver's climate and influence.
Prox: Have you noticed any particular changes in the symbolism or scope of your works since you’ve relocated to New York? How does the surrounding culture influence your art?
Adam: Definitely. I was quite tentative when I first came here about changing too much, but i'm quite glad I kept things open and I feel what I've learned here has really broke open new modes of thinking. I've started to step away from shoving specific narratives at the viewer – things that are a bit literal or superfluous – which I find is more in line with the East Coast vocabulary.
Prox: Why did you choose oil painting as your method of communicating ideas? Is this simply an aesthetic practice or something deeper?
Adam: Oil has a history to it, as does figurative work, and I like to build upon and into that. As well, just how I paint, oils work much much better for me. There are things you can do in oil that you can't easily replicate in other mediums.
Prox: There seems to be a tremendous emphasis on time, choice, and the way that these things affect us socially. Why do you find these ideas so compelling?
Adam: I don't think I have a good answer for that, actually. Just the way I'm wired, how I look at the world, and situate myself in it. It's all an extension of me, in ways.
Prox: How did you initially get introduced to time on a more quantum or philosophical level? What has continued to foster your curiosity about these disciplines?
Adam: I've always loved math and science, so it was never a big leap to watch and read those kinds of things. I did a thesis project in design in undergrad that was on time and it's different modes of thought and how it's been navigated throughout history. I was able to carry that body of research into my next painting series, which was really useful to build off of.
Prox: Something that I find extremely interesting is how you choose to depict the decision making process as this kind of overlapping, fuzzy, disorienting (almost intoxicated and fragmented) process. Why did you choose this particular style and what is it trying to convey to the audience about the nature of decision making?
Adam: This was bred out of my anxiety, and the crushing weight of making a choice. You see all these possible futures, how each little decision is going to impact not just that moment, but over time lead farther and farther away from another choice, but they're all able to be traced back to that one decision. I suppose I was trying to convey that: the aspect of time that's fluid but also monumental for us who only live time in one direction.
Prox: Mental health is another prevailing theme in much of your work. Whether it’s escaping loneliness or fear via lust, social media attention, or alcohol. Is there a particular reason you’ve decided to devote so much of your work to this topic?
Adam: I've sort of mentioned it previous, but it all comes from me. I don't think I could ever write or draw or paint about something that I haven't actually lived. I could – I mean it wouldn't be hard – but the end product wouldn't be honest. At least for me. I want to connect to people, to have my work connect to them, and there has to be truth there for that.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Adam: Michael Borremans, Neo Rauch, Edward Hopper, Antonio Lopez Garcia... all amazing artists.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Adam: Being outside and active. Drinking and writing. People watching.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Adam: Work. Work really really hard. Be courageous in your actions, and courageous in questioning them. Make your studio somewhere you want to be. And then fail in all of it and do it all over again, and fail better next time.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and endeavors?
Adam: I'll be part of a group show at Abend Gallery in Denver this summer!
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Adam: Just thanks for the opportunity :)
Learn more about Adam, here.
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