Friday, August 7, 2015

A Gallery Full of Peculiar Beasts


At Saint-Germain Café Gallery

August 21, 2015 – October 28, 2015

Kristian Adam brings his new collection of NymNums to Saint-Germain Café Gallery this summer in a show titled PECULIAR BEASTS. It is an exhibit unlike any other that has been shown at the gallery (or in Penticton, for that matter), and it is sure to spark the imagination of children and adults alike. Adam's finely detailed paintings reveal a host of characters (or NymNums) that, while at first appear magical and childlike, often represent the roles humans have in society, and the consequences our misguided thoughts and actions have on that same society… and the world.

A self-taught artist in nearly every medium, Adam has developed his style and techniques through trial and error. In the past, Dr. Seuss's body of work and works like the ‘Codex Seraphinianus’, which is filled with surrealistic and organic Rube Golberg-like, Heath Robinson-style contraptions, have helped serve as inspiration in creating his whimsical other-worldly landscapes and devices. However, for PECULIAR BEASTS, his inspiration comes from a much smaller force of nature… his four-year old cousin Ava. “Watching Ava draw makes me really nostalgic for that naiveté and spontaneity I had when I was young,” Adam says. “I just didn’t over think things back then. I feel more neurotic about my art now. It can be a bit stressful. So I envy the place that Ava creates from.” PECULIAR BEASTS will include a collection of collaborations between Adam and his cousin Ava.

Adam’s NYMNUMS scurried into the world in 2009 in an exhibition featuring more than 60 paintings and drawings, and a book of 10 illustrated short stories written by Michael Sasi*. The NymNums, which Adam says he created as “a way to live through his childhood eternally,” served as the model for his ANIMALOPOLIS exhibit the following year. ANIMALOPOLIS contained an even larger collection of characters and 13 short stories, which were published in a limited-edition issue of CROW TOES QUARTERLY, an art and literature magazine for children, published by Saint-Germain Café Gallery’s Christopher Millin from 2007 - 2011. “Nature inspires me to paint, more than anything,” says Adam. “And I love creating my own unique vision of it. Animals, humans and their interactions… I strive to portray some kind of empathy through these things.” Since ANIMALOPOLIS, Adam’s characters have appeared in exhibits titled FLOMBAGOO, THE PUMPKIN GANG, PANDACORN PARK and A WOODLAND RECITAL.

Michael Sasi, a longtime collaborator recalls what initially drew him to Adam’s work. “I contacted Kristian about collaborating after seeing his work in a group show at Ayden Gallery (in Vancouver) in the most fortunate circumstances. I was on a date with time to kill before a movie and the gallery was open. [His two paintings] NOMADS and MASS OF THE GOAT opened up new worlds to me, both in my imagination and my career. My involvement in fine art can be traced back to that show. I knew I had stumbled onto something special. Besides the obvious talent, it was the attention to detail that stood shoulders above anything else I had ever seen. Over the past few years, Kristian’s work has tended to focus more on his ideas and characters with greater volume and smaller works. There is more seriousness and subtly to his humour. This is defined as maturity. Kristian has become a master of drawing. Elements of his style have solidified, so much so that you can recognize a Kristian Adam character regardless of the finish or the medium of the piece.”

This maturity in Adam's work could also be attributed to a series of unfortunate events that began in 2010 when he was hit by a car while riding home on his bicycle. In the accident he broke his painting arm. “Then, two years ago I became very ill and could not paint (again),” explains Adam. “Losing my health and ability to do the thing I love most was crushing. The experience was both terrifying and humbling and I am still recovering from it. I am not the same person I was. [PECULIAR BEASTS] is my first solo body of work since I got sick. In many ways, I would consider this show my rehabilitation.”

Kristian Adam’s PECULIAR BEASTS exhibition opens at Saint-Germain Café Gallery on Friday, August 21st. The opening reception runs from 5 pm – 9 pm. The exhibit continues through October 28th, 2015. For more information, please contact Christopher Millin at Saint-Germain Café Gallery.


Some more sparks of wisdom from Kristian Adam and Michael Sasi.

To Kristian:
What is the most difficult part of being a full-time artist?

“To make art requires a sacrifice of time and energy. It’s personal preference how much of those things you’re willing to give up to make art. Personally speaking, for me to be productive and happy I have had to simplify my life quite a bit. Watch FIGHT CLUB. ‘The things you own end up owning you.’ It’s the only cliché movie line I’ve ever found useful. My thought is, if you’re not using it on a regular basis and it doesn't give you inspiration anymore, get rid of it.”

To Kristian:
Can you tell me a little bit about your process? What is your favourite medium? Where do your ideas come from?

“I start with a monochrome drawing as a template. I draw very loose as I never really know what’s going to happen. I start to pull more familiar shapes out of the loose lines similar to the shapes of animals or things you would project when you look into a cloud. I start to place objects that have personal meaning or help create some kind of narrative inspired by an event in my life from the past, present or future. I then create the underpainting with thicker more opaque colors and as I work my way to the top layers of paint, the glazes get thinner and more transparent to give depth. My medium of choice is oils, but I experiment with all of them.”

To Michael:
How would you like the world to view Kristian’s art?

“Kristian is currently the only artist in any medium I know who works exclusively in his craft. His art is his day job. He's built a business out of his passion without compromise or hard sales or an advertising budget. So, he's already ahead of most people. My hope for his work is to maximize visibility and sales, as these things will lead to more freedom to create. Intrinsically, the work is just as valuable if one person sees it or if all of the people see it. I know the ambitions he has for particular shows, and every work requires more energy, more self. More views and more opportunities provide the time and energy to move forward.

“The world has changed immensely in the last decade. People consume more media in one day than they used to consume in a year (fact) and these industries are becoming more fractured as the tools and channels for sharing information expand. As the competition for attention escalates, mainstream entertainment narrows. Nothing worth consuming is created with the intention to appeal to a mass audience. If it happens, great, but that is an outcome that no one can control. Not even Bill Gates, try as he might. The ultimate commercial outcome for Kristian Adam's art is a committed and enthusiastic fan base. You know, people who get it.”

To Kristian:
What does the future hold for the art of Kristian Adam?

“A mango tree, a nice garden, charcoal sticks and some paper…”

*Pick up copies of Crow Toes Quarterly featuring Michael's stories HEARSAY FROM THE RUPERT GREENWOOD CHRISTMAS IS TODAY TALES OF FEBRUARY THE THIRD and MARCH OF THE FAT BABIES at the gallery.