Friday, January 22, 2010

Adam Lee Farrell - Solos at Knapp

Of all the artists that I currently represent, Adam Farrell is the most intense, complicated, and opinionated. A heady cat, he is a closet academic. A Graduate of Tyler School of Art, Adam Farrell is a product of Philadelphia. A veteran Knapp Gallery painter, he is known for serving up complex, controversial and cryptic faire. He picks at pressure points, the spots of irritation that are difficult to scratch. Recognizable imagery disarms and lures us into awaiting snares of complicity.

Diametrically opposed to physics’ fundamental postulate, “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” Adam magnetically responds to “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I would imagine Adam’s theme song to be Supertramp’s 70s classic “Take the long way home.” This is a game he plays. Like a copyright, he retains the final rights to the meaning behind is work, wanting you to walk away with your own experience. Creating and speaking a new language, it is impossible to cipher Farrell truth. Google Translate is of no value. You are on your own. He likes it like that.

Farrell possesses photo realism drawing and painting skills. Shhh! Few people know this. Why is this you ask, he leaves this particular skill in the tool box. Adam cares little for the mundane. After all, anyone can replicate, creating afresh requires skill. Part and parcel to Adam’s skills set is his commitment to the craft. It is all about the paint. Adam is quick to tell you his visual message is gleaned always though the application of paint. OCD in his delivery, Adam’s imagery selection must first withstand the rigors of his brush and stroke. Perspective and light quality reinforce and validate his tenure as a journeyman. If there were such an organization, Adam would be a card carrying lifetime member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Painter’s Coalition for the advancement of Oil Painters. He is serious about his craft. This is most refreshing.

With a proclivity for the comedic, Adam’s sarcasm can be unsettling. Often politically based and socially charged, Farrell’s images demand of us alternative levels of collective responsibility. Farrell is extremely present to real time, requiring of us a commensurate measure of awareness. He does not tolerate slackers and requires our undivided participation. A pervasive a sense of the hilarious, the ridiculous even, Adam is not to be taken lightly. He is serious as a heart attack. Despite a continued and reinforced ideal of anonymity, Adam’s situational plotting point the bony finger at the randomness of folly, fury and futility. Adam is not loud but crafty in ensnaring his victims, only the ignorant escape.

Farrell gives us enough room to hang ourselves. Take nothing for granted. Adam has sized up every angle of his work. A results minded creator, it is not Adam’s intent to steer the viewer towards a specific end. Pensive in all things, he exerts significant consideration of the possibilities where and how one might draw a final conclusion. A premature assessment or judgment like ejaculation will leave you unsatisfied. This painter expects of you a diligent and thorough work ethic. Deceiving portals offer apparent safe passage through to his truth. Pejorative insults lay in wait for the fool hearty. He wants you to take the bait.

Adam’s distinct and purposeful choice of caricatures, his iconography, keeps us on guard and off balance; a bizarre and unnerving menagerie. Forced viability, the employing of repetition as a tool to anneal his forgings, enforces his sculptural sensibilities. Though a painter, structural dogma raises the stakes to 3d. An illusionist by nature, Adam‘s keen sense of suggestion sets up his pointed though remarkably sophisticated prestige.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adam Lee Farrell - Painter / Thinker

Who: ...Adam Lee Farrell

What: ...As Above, So Below


When 1: ...5 February 2010..........28 February 2010

When 2: ...Artist Reception Saturday 6 February 2010 - 6pm to 10pm

"The ability to create a specific, recognizable image using undefined edges and abstract mark making allows for the paint itself to rival the suggestion of realistic imagery." Adam Lee Farrell

Where 1: ...The Knapp Gallery
Where 2: ...162 N 3rd Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

How: 267.455.0279

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

“Good job Ashley! That’s how to swing the bat.”

There you have it. Our leadoff batter is safely aboard first base. With commitments to four paintings, day one of releasing her show, I am convinced the
remainder of January will follow accordingly. With all the pre-game feedback I had been receiving, I knew we’d have a strong start. Ashley’s growth from her first Knapp Gallery opening all but assured me that the new work would go over well.
Ashley’s personal growth since the summer has afforded her the confidence to offer up new renderings that are a bit softer than the first show, but without giving up
that edge we’ve come to know and deem her fingerprint. Regarding the “edge”, still a far cry from PG, her work now includes some notable differences since her first time out of the gate.

Immediately upon stepping into Ashley’s installation, (rear of gallery) we are confronted with a sense of completeness, a resolve if you will, in her storytelling. Resolution and reconciliation might seem impossible considering the
in your face explicit and elicit content of her work. This new work, albeit with a “softened edge” is remarkably accessible, allowing us to engage. Once inside her world, there is an unfolding of detail and nuance revealing bits and data in consumable chunks. Expelled From Eden, though shocking is not about shock value. Ashley is not an entertainer. This is not a performance. Simply put she paints. She is not contemplating how to get a reaction. She opens her mouth and these are the visual words that are spoken. This is her daily language. No fronting here. My girl is straight up and flat out honest in her work.

The backdrop, her wall work, the vibrant macro environment into which she sets her sellable vignettes, is settled while articulately driven with purpose. The ensuing integration is demonstrably and definably Ashley. The ephemeral nature of her wall work is distinctly Ashley as well. She cares least for the work that most viewers consider lost in the repainting of the gallery, at the show’s conclusion. Overt confidence of skill testifies to her authenticity. With machine-like consistency, she can produce on-demand imagery with blinding speed; while talking and drinking a cup of coffee. Ashley is fluid and comfortable in her work.

Expelled from Eden’s maturation of imagery over the imagery of Forgiven, her first show at the Knapp Gallery has me most excited. Certain paintings like Girl from New Orleans demonstrate this most definitively. Key to Ashley’s new found maturity is the use of a painting within a painting. The end result is a multi-tiered layered hierarchy of imagery. Girl from New Orleans includes a microcosm of particulars, personal dramas that define and redefine the depicted image of the child. Consequently, the hard copy, the sellable painting though set within the wall work, because of the micro description, maintains a significant stand alone quality as well. Throughout Expelled from Eden, Ashley employs multiple derivatives of this new found equation.

Ashley has committed significant real estate, an entire wall, to the events surrounding hurricane Katrina and its victims. More than a dedication, our painter sought to create a visual landscape that transcends wall art into an active participatory installation. Many of Ashley’s painted Katrina images are derived from photographs. Powerfully stacked imagery intensifies the sensation of drowning. Desiring the viewer’s consideration and sensitivity of Katrina’s immensity, Ashley adopts a visually colloquial language of Afro-centric imagery; an abstract aesthetic of a black artist’s perspective. Ashley, dogmatic in her approach, points us to perspectives not typically our own. Recurring and socially dynamic themes of poverty and struggle for power typify her testament to personal experience.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year! - 2010

Hey Gang,

Salutations and Happy New Year to all my readers, from The Knapp Gallery and The Director’s Chair. Thanks for a remarkable '09. I appreciate all your comments, both published and non-published. You have all helped me grow tremendously. I look forward to spending a prosperous and healthy 2010 with you. I just want to stop for a few moments and share some thoughts, moving into the New Year. We are making some changes and some exciting additions.

Let me start off by updating Ashley’s show. Day one of our releasing Ashley’s work we had commitments to four paintings!!!! The Expelled from Eden opening enjoyed just over 100 visitors, despite frigid temperatures and non-first Friday exhibit. The streets were dead but we enjoyed ourselves and outstanding art until nearly ten PM.

The bar has been raised. Unfortunately for some of my artists, I’ve had to say Good bye. Holding to the notion of quality over quantity, I am reducing the size our stable. This is tough for me. Not one to enjoy saying “no”, I am compelled to prune back, desiring a higher quality yield. How does this play out in the practicum? Firstly, my rejection percentage of art submittals will most likely increase to 85 percent from 75%. I did a few favors this year and paid some costs for kindness. No more favors. Either an artist makes the grade or they don’t.

The boss and I are dialoguing about my position on allowing New York artists to show here at the Knapp Gallery. In my attempt to honor the bosses concerns, I will accept one New York artist for my 2011 calendar. So New Yorkers send me your stuff. But know this; I am going to be tough. I will accept New York portfolio submittals until Apr 30, 2010. Consequently, as I have rethought my New York position, or had my New York position rethought for me, I will re-accept NYC portfolios that I have dismissed since my taking over the Director’s chair.

I have one guaranteed out -of-state spot to North Carolina based Artist Matt Baumgardner. Beyond a friend for nearly twenty years, Matt is an accomplished internationally recognized painter; One might consider this a favor that Matt is doing for me and the Knapp Gallery. Matt and I have talked a lot this past year ironing out logistics and believe we have it all but worked out. I’ll keep you posted.

I am keeping one other 2011 non -New York, out of state opportunity available for what I’ll call a walk-in applicant. I want the freedom to pick an artist on the spot, either in my travels or an actual walk-in.

Enough of housekeeping, let’s get back to Philadelphia and 2010. Two very exciting additions on the 2010 horizon: City Year and The Knapp Gallery City-Wide Graduate Student Juried Art exhibition.

In concert with the national City-Year team , the Knapp gallery is dedicating a partial spot geared to Philadelphia’s high school artists. In our continued attempt to participate in the maintaining, developing and nurturing of the Philadelphia Art Community we are affording two June weekend exhibitions for participants of City Year events.

A most exciting addition to our 2010 calendar is our City-Wide Graduate Student Juried Art exhibition, developed by my new assistant Tereza Gowen. Tereza’s goal is to create a yearly competitive award that Philadelphia Graduate Art Students come to covet, expect and pursue. The winner of this show will be the recipient of their first solo show on what I call the “Boulevard.”

Just for the record, we are employing a unique method of selecting our jury. Each juror must be nominated anonymously. We are accepting nominations through May 31, 2010. Our hope is there will be multiple nominations. From this pool of multiple nominations, we will select a seven person jury.