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Adam Simon
brent grant
2004, 8" x 10", acrylic on masonite


I call Painter, affectionately, “The Little Painter.” Unless one’s gaze is focused directly upon Painter, it’s just a soft blue rectangle. And when I do focus on the painting and the figure therein, it seems that the painter has been working steadily since I last looked at him.

Adam has assigned himself a project: he looks through stock photo archives to find what he identifies as generic prototypes and then uses them to “make a lexicon of what it means to be human in this culture, at this historical juncture.”

Painter is a little unusual in portraying a single figure; usually there are two or three or more figures juxtaposed on a single canvas:

JOG, 2006, 42" x 32”, acrylic,
modeling paste, resin on canvas
GREY BABIES, 2008, 60" x 45”,
acrylic on aluminum panel
FEAST, 2007, 54" x 45”, acrylic
on prepared panel

Painter is probably the simplest and most modest self portrait of an artist ever made. The self portrait usually, as compared to portraits in general, has very staring, assessing eyes. The reason for this may seem obvious: it's so difficult to see yourself without, you know, appearing to be looking. This self-portrait by Gregory Gillespie is a good example of this—and like the little painter is wearing a baseball cap:


There is a strategy of self-abnegation apparent in Adam’s work: stock images, painted with stencils and a roller, and an unwillingness to indicate what the image might mean to him or should mean to the viewer. Or perhaps that’s not quite right; he seems willing to talk about what it might mean to him personally, in a generic sort of way, and professes an interest in the viewer’s response without taking that as definitive either.

Thoughts on Adam’s work continue with the second painting: Generic Moment #3: The Letter.

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