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"The themes tend to be almost exclusively personal. In dealing with concepts and motives that are very close to me, I develop an authentic relationship with the work itself which lends to the authenticity of my practice…" - An interview with Adam Handler

Adam Handler's is a visual artist working with acrylic paint, oil sticks, pencils and markers. His work replaces art's staid conventions of portraying reality by adopting a child-like style, questioning our perceptions and assumptions of our surroundings. His intense colours and flat drawings illustrate notes from daily life with humour, distorting the proportions and form of his subjects.

"The themes tend to be almost exclusively personal. In dealing with concepts and motives that are very close to me, I develop an authentic relationship with the work itself which lends to the authenticity of my practice…" - An interview with Adam Handler


Jun 21, 2023

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your artwork?

I am an artist based in New York. I have been working as an artist for the last 17 years since I was 19 years old. My works have varied over the years spanning most mediums and styles. For the last 12 years or so I have been focused in on my figurative works as well as a series of characters such as the ghost, werewolf and UFO.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your background shaped your artistic practice?

I do come from a somewhat “artsy family.” I grew up going to a picture-framing factory that my grandparents owned in NYC. I come from a family of Argentinean wood carvers and always saw myself as a sculptor but grew very attached to painting in my 20’s.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your creative process changed over the years?

For me, painting has become a part of me. When I am not creating I feel a bit of a loss or void. My art-making practice is more of a life-style then career.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How has your artwork evolved since you first started making art?

When I first started painting I was mainly copying the artists that came before me. It was a way for me to “understand” the artworks that touched me. Looking back, I do not think I would be producing the work I am now if not for those early copies of Basquiats, Van Goghs, Richard Prince etc.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What inspired you to become an artist?

Painting is a way for me to express my emotions and thoughts…especially when they cannot be verbalized. Certain emotions can be difficult to handle and painting/creating helps to release those bottled up thoughts. Also, I can’t sing or dance lol.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular artists or movements that have greatly influenced your work? In what way?

I would say the Abstract Expressionist Movement and Minimalism have really influenced my current art making practice. The Abex artists taught me how to paint with texture, color and emotion while the Minimalist artists taught me how to control that passion.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How do you select your themes?

The themes tend to be almost exclusively personal. In dealing with concepts and motives that are very close to me, I develop an authentic relationship with the work itself which lends to the authenticity of my practice…at least that’s what I strive for.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Where do the ghosts and aliens come from? What is the significance of them?

My ghosts after my girls are my longest running series of paintings. My work has always teetered somewhere between sweetness and sadness and the longing for yesterday or tomorrow. The ghost form was a way to bridge this gap and create a symbol that represented death in an approachable way. I love life and all the good and bad experiences that come along with it. In my mid-twenties I started to experience a lot of anxiety surrounding death and fearing loss. I always used my artwork as a way to work through issues that I could not work out in my head. The ghost character was born out of that anxiety. In repeating this simple form along with large sweet eyes and an angelic smirk it began to soften the fear and allow me to address death in a new light. The UFO Abduction Series has always dealt with the concept of one being taken against one's will; being displaced away from the comforts of home. The UFO abduction paintings specifically explore the inevitable chapter of life in which all living things will ultimately succumb. The series provided an opportunity to delve into myself and explore being comfortable or accepting of this fate. Creating a friendly relationship has been a cathartic experience which lends to the works bright and non-threatening nature.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Can you tell us a bit about a few specific pieces you have created that you are particularly proud of?

I recently delved into producing sculptures in bronze. It’s something that I had always wanted to do since I was kid. The classicism, permanence and strength of bronze is what attracted me to the medium. However its quite costly and time consuming which in turn has helped me focus and perfect what I am trying to convey with the medium.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What has been the most rewarding part of your career as a studio artist?

For me being able to live a life by my rules and on my time has been a gift and a dream come true. I would be an artist even if I had a regular day job but being able to be a full-time artist is an honor and something that I definitely do not take for granted.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us about your latest body of work.

My latest body of works are my Battleground Paintings. American Superheroes have influenced popular culture since their conception nearly 75 years ago. As a child growing up in the suburbs of NYC characters such as Batman, Spiderman, The X-Men and many others were commonly depicted on our clothing, birthday parties, backpacks, lunch boxes, toys, comic books and movies. These powerful characters inspired us to be something more than our human selves. Growing up as a Jewish kid in New York I never felt different or really experienced Anti-Semitism as many of my friends and classmates on Long Island, NY were also Jewish or part Jewish. Now as an adult and seeing the rising divide in America and the overwhelming amount of Anti-Semitism that is occurring, I turn to the Superhero's that as a child inspired and conquered evil with their superhuman powers and abilities. When I learned that nearly all the American Superheroes that I cherished and admired were created by Jews I felt that I too wanted to create my own small mark on this genre through my painting.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Do you have any upcoming or recent exhibitions or projects that you are excited about?

Yes, I just went to Madrid, Spain for the opening of my first solo exhibition of the year with Villazan Gallery. It will present many new series of works including my Battleground Paintings, Ghost Cutouts and Bronze Sculptures.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think is the most important aspect of creating successful artwork?

When I look back at the work years after it was created and I can remember every feeling and event that was occurring in my life at the time it was painted.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Describe your process of creating a new artwork from concept to completion.

Many times I have very little idea on what I am going to paint. I staple the canvas to the wall and begin to grab whatever colors are attracting me at the moment and start the process of creating like a mad scientist.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What is your favorite medium to work with? Please tell us a bit about how the medium influences or supports the ideas behind your work.

Oil stick is definitely my favorite. I am able to eliminate the brush and work in a very direct and “child-like” way.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any techniques you have developed that you use consistently in your artwork?

I would say one of my techniques that I use a lot is on my Monochromatic works in which I use an oil stick on very smooth paper or canvas and then smear it to create a somewhat ghostly appearance…probably many artists do this as well haha.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us about the particular materials or techniques you use to create your artwork and how they influence your work and practice?

I would say Oil sticks are the most important medium for recognizing my work. Essentially it is oil paint in a crayon form.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular techniques or materials you would like to learn how to use in the future?

I would love to experiment with glass.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What themes or topics are you exploring in your current artwork?

I have been focusing in on a new series of Battle Paintings as well as revisiting an older series of very simple yet darker feeling Monochromatic works.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular projects or themes you would like to explore in the future?

I would like to venture more into fashion and other collaborations which would expose my works to a wider audience.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What was the most challenging piece you have ever created? How much do you think the effort you put into creating a work is important vs the idea behind it?

I think working with Bronze has been the most challenging. I think the effort and time one puts into a work might effect the way you feel but for the overall outcome it has very little importance. The idea and successful execution reigns supreme over effort…for me at least.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What has been the most memorable artwork you have created? What makes this piece memorable?

I would have to say one of my earlier figurative paintings which for me was the start into my large-scale figurative paintings. Also at the time and still is one of my largest paintings.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think is the most important skill a studio artist should have?

To have a consistent studio schedule. Many times I do not feel inspired to paint or create but I will force myself to do small paper studies or revisit an old theme. It's a way of keeping yourself “primed” to create.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your creative career?

It really has varied so much during this journey. In the beginning it was just finding someone who believed in the works and wanted to show them. Now its choosing the right galleries and dealers who will believe in me and my work long term.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What advice would you give to aspiring studio artists?

Love your work more than any other person does. If you are not your biggest fan then you are not creating honest work. In the end your career will vary in success however your work will always be by your side.

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