To kick off Black History Month we have the immensely talented craftsman, Adahn Westart.
Adahn's art portrays the vivid and energetic underpinnings of the subconscious mind and it's innerworkings.
By marrying neo-expressionistic sentiment with contemporary abstraction, he is able to conjure up fantastical images that run the gamut of creativity.
There is an impressive array of colors on full display within Adahn's work that expertly depicts the seemingly bottomless well of imagination that he draws inspiration from.
Adahn took the time to share his story and discuss his work.
Prox: For starters, let’s learn more about yourself. Where are you from and how did you develop a love for art?
Adahn: I was born in Phoenix AZ. My family moved to California (Los Olivia) when I was 5 and then the Bay Area when I was around 9 years old and i’ve been here ever since... besides some college years in Boston. I got into art as a security blanket. I started drawing for fun like every other little kid. I was very naturally attracted. When I got to school around other kids I used it to escape. I was a PAINFULLY shy and introverted kid throughout elementary, middle and High school. I used art as a social crutch to get by. People didn’t bother me much because they saw me focused so hard on drawing. I didn’t know how to socialize and didn’t necessarily want to. Eventually I was being called the “artist” in my classes and the identity soaked into my head. I knew I wanted to do something with art before then however I’d never thought about in the way others perspectives pasted to me made me think about it. I was the artist.
Prox: As creatives, we tend to be inspired by a bit of everything but what are some things that you feel directly impacted your style?
Adahn: What directly impacts my style is my perspective on life and my emotions, I use both to create all my work. I love things like pop culture, anime and music but what really gets my work onto the paper is when I get into my own head. I feel I make the best art when going through swings of emotions whether that be happy/sad/terrified etc. I try to make sure to objectively rationalize my feelings and examine them through a more generalized lens so I may craft a narrative and composition that enhances my abstract concepts in the fullest way possible.
Prox: How would you describe your aesthetic for those who may be completely unfamiliar with your work?
Adahn: I feel my aesthetic is still in development. I’m not sure how to classify it. I’m comfortable with being some kind of anime offshoot mashed together with surreal elements. I remember when the term “street art” was becoming big and getting tossed around and I use to get that thrown on me a lot. I’d also say my work is very line-centric. However I’m now attempting to move away from that and broaden my style.
Prox: What is it about the abstract and left-field that interests you? How does your color choices help to bring this out?
Adahn: I see everything as specific colors. Like “2” is blue. “4” is purple etc. so I put a lot of symbology in what I choose things to represent. I feel that I haven’t gotten to a place where my color is deliberate enough for me to explain what I’m attempting with it or how it helps my concepts. The one thing I can say though is that I like to work with complimentary color schemes. If there’s a big purple rock on one side of the page, then the tree stump on the opposite side of it should be yellow. When you do stuff like this I feel it adds a whole new level of cohesion within your piece. It allows the eyes to focus and balance. The abstractness of life is the greatest mystery ever. We’re here on Earth with no rules no explanation. Just a bunch of abstract pieces of information as well as half truths and unfinished answers. We can form it all into anything. That’s what I like to do in my art. Break down those mental barriers and givens and see if I can rewire My perspective and others on whatever topic. Abstract is the way to freak out the mind in a good way. It allows you to move away from definitions and labels.
Prox: I am quite enthralled with the energy that’s present in a lot of the stuff you put out. How do you condense and translate this into art?
Adahn: I’ve learned, as I grew, up to condense and pick things apart. Maybe it’s because I’m a picky person, but for whatever reason it’s allowed me to pick out the fat from my creations. So I funnel in everything that matters to me for what I’m creating and leave out the unhelpful gunk. Emotion and mood are two of the greatest things to work with. I feel I make my best work under highly emotional conditions. It helps to focus on the purest part of what I’m expressing.
Prox: “My child isn’t dead, he’s just learning to share” is fantastic. Can you discuss this one for us? What does it mean?
Adahn: As a young one I was very fearful and blissfully ignorant of adulthood and my future. I believed all adults knew everything and that one day someone was gonna come along and hand me the “Adult Handbook” with all the adulty things I’d need for an adult life. I didn’t get it. That, coupled with my painful social anxiety and seclusion into art, mixed for a perfect storm of low level rebellion in my college years. I essentially, for a lack of better words, lost my mind. I don’t mean I went crazy. The new setting of college and having new responsibilities i couldn’t have grasped before entering left me kinda frazzled. And I just followed my impulses, like a child. After my events in college I had to find out how to transfer from that part of my life to a young adult. In short I found that transition and this piece represents that. My realization of where I am, what it took to get here and acknowledging my plans moving forward. “Fear = fuel” is part of the artist statement. I used that line to comment on my mind state on the two words. I’ve always been a huge procrastinator, finding fuel to motivate has always been an issue. In this piece I’m telling myself the fuel I need is fear. The fear of failure, and everything that comes with it. As a kid you have this down low feeling of omnipotence. You don’t know you have it until it washes away as you grow up. I needed that process.
Prox: Any artists, creatives, intellectuals, musicians, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?
Prox: Is there any information you’d like to share about upcoming projects and releases you have in store for us?
Adahn: I have a pin dropping I don’t know when BUT, stay tuned to my Instagram. You’ll know when it’s out. Besides that expect lots of murals this year. And comics. Finally.
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