Posted on February 18 2019
We had the pleasure of speaking with New York based artist Adam Handler about his influences and what guides him to create such wonderful works of art.
Growing up on the east coast. What got you into art?
Art has always been part of my life. Growing up my grandparents had a custom-framing factory in Brooklyn. I spent a large portion of my up-bringing there while my mom went to work. I was surrounded by amazing pieces from masters such as Picasso, Miro, Chagall and De Kooning as well as contemporary artists such as Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Basquiat. However it wasn’t until I was 18 or so that I started making copies of these artists work to hang in my own room and began to formulate my own ideas for paintings
Can you tell us about the first experience you remember creating art?
One of my early memories of making art was with my grandmother helping me with a school project. We had to make a replica of a bird…I was given the assignment of making a parrot. My grandmother always had a very inventive and unique way of making things. We used panty hoes and foam stuffing to create a large-scale replica of a parrot. The piece was unique in form, texture and material, which ultimately started to open my eyes in representing the world the way we feel it not see it.
You have studied sculpture, photography, art history, as well as life drawing in Italy. How did this influence your personal aesthetic over time?
I think it's crucial for an artist to experiment with all mediums and experience what each practice is capable of. More importability one needs to discover what medium gives you the most pleasure. For instance I wanted to be a wood sculptor like my great-grandfather however I found little excitement and joy from carving wood and a great deal pleasure in painting.
Much of your work includes images of tulips, ghosts, bats, cats and female figures. What draws you to this subject matter?
The female figure has been my longest and most evolving subject. There is something very classical and timeless about representing the female nude. It’s a way for me to build upon this artistic tradition in art history. The style of woman took many years of experimentation to create. The bats came about after dealing with a gallery that let's just say wasn’t operating with honest business practices. I sat outside with a glass of wine and felt so defeated. I put my head back and tons of bats were fluttering and circling above me. The inspiration hit me so hard that I dusted myself off and started a series of bat paintings, which became very successful series.
There seems to be a balance of innocence and whimsy with a bit of a rebellious edge in your work. Is this intentional?
It’s not intentional but rather the product of painting using emotion/feeling and not your head. When these styles of works that you see were conceived I specifically turned off my mind and allowed only emotion, actions and spirit to guide the works. It’s tough at times to turn off your head but whenever I think too much about a piece it’s almost always unsuccessful.
Primarily you work with charcoal and oil painting. Are there any other mediums you would like to explore in the future?
Lately I have been intrigued to create video/digital pieces as well as land works. It’s been on my mind for sometime but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I like the idea of making something that has a fleeting quality, lacking permanence.
What do you hope to portray through your work?
I would like to portray a different way of perceiving the world around us. Allowing people to experience the work and feel something. It seems too often that people have become desensitized by the world around them. If I can give people a minute of true emotion then the work is successful.
We would like to thank the incredibly talented Adam Handler for chatting with us! Take a closer look inside his studio here.