Precious Human Birth

Adam Caldwell

    • 16 x 20 inches
    • © 2014
    • Oil on Canvas
  • My paintings and drawings juxtapose elements of abstract expressionism and classical figuration. During my training at the California College of Arts and Crafts, I began to create collage drawings that layered disparate images on top of one another; I now use oil paint in a similar way, starting with an abstract background and then adding more photorealistic details, allowing the work to dictate its own construction. The resulting palimpsest of figures and abstract shapes represents the conflicted and paradoxical emotions that underlie my work. My paintings evoke the tensions between mind and body, self and other, present and past. They also raise questions about the nature of identity, particularly concerning issues of gender and sexuality. I am deeply concerned about the world around me, and my work reflects my reactions to social issues such as war and consumerism by contrasting images from American advertisements and popular culture with images of rituals from around the world.

    The eclectic nature of my work reflects my wide range of interests and influences. My figurative painting and drawing has been influenced by the realistic yet expressive work of Odd Nerdrum, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Antonio López García, Jenny Saville, and Barron Storey, whom I studied under at CCAC. Theories of consciousness by philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze have also informed my art work. I am inspired by my grandfather, author Erskine Caldwell, and his commitment to representing the unseen and marginalized members of our society. I am also heavily influenced by music, movies, and comics, all of which have shaped my identity. I am an accomplished guitarist and martial artist, and these disciplines also inform my artistic perspective.

    One of my most important areas of inspiration is the community of artists I surround myself with. Painting in particular can be a very lonely and isolating practice, so I make a point to attend drawing groups and I share studio space with David Choong Lee. Although the process can be solitary, I paint to commune with others and allow them entrance into my interiority. Painting connects me to my world and times and culture. I always hope to create work that will invoke in someone else the feelings I have had before great art.

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