Queensland artist Lisa Adams has gained a strong following for her carefully realised paintings and her current exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries is a must visit for those who are in Brisbane, or can travel there.
For more information on Lisa's exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries CLICK HERE
Rose garden, 2008, oil on canvas, 70 x 53.5 cm collection Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art
In The Real Art World interviews Lisa Adams about her recent exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
In The real Art World: What is the Lisa Adams story, how have you and your art arrived at this point?
Lisa Adams: I live and work on a 15 acre native bush property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland with my husband, fellow artist Kim Guthrie.
My earliest work was comprised of many drawings which graphically depict spooky dolls and playthings that evoke the uncanny world of childhood. I am largely self taught and began to teach myself to paint at age 19. The dolls disappeared from my work but crucial elements from this period have remained. I have now been painting for 20 years and have been represented by Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane since 1999.
Drift, 2008, oil on canvas, 33 x 61 cm
In The real Art World: How do you go about finding the subjects for your paintings and what do you really look for when assessing it’s potential to make it as a painting?
Lisa Adams: Ideas present themselves to me vividly. I see the finished painting clearly in my mind, and it is this image that I endeavor to represent. I am drawn to ideas which give me an intense gut feeling the moment they are conceived. I must feel this strongly about an idea before pursuing it as a painting as it means committing a large amount of time, bringing that idea to fruition. I try to remain faithful to the original idea without tinkering with it or questioning it too much, as the initial concept is very often the most powerful. I can never pinpoint how or when I will get an idea.
Secret, 2006, oil on canvas, 54 x 78 cm
In The real Art World: There is a disconcerting tension to viewing your paintings, as we become like witnesses to an unresolved story. How important is creating a balanced enigmatic state where the paintings lead the viewer into wanting to understand the image without giving them many clues?
Lisa Adams: It is not my intention to lead the viewer towards anywhere in particular. My paintings are often inexplicable suspended moments which I often don't have all the answers to myself but which I know somehow are an emotional response to my life's experiences.
Lovers, 2006, oil on canvas, 60 x 100 cm
In The real Art World: Creating ambiguous images such as “Lovers, 2007” makes for all sorts of associations. For me, I cannot look at that painting without thinking of Dave Graney’s song “Scorched earth love affair”, about a couple that were “bad for each other”. Does it surprise you what people tell you they see in your paintings?
Lisa Adams: I am happy for people to form their own ideas about the meaning of my paintings, everyone filters art through their own history. What people tell me they see in my paintings often tells me a a lot about them. For me 'Lovers' 2007 was about the incredible intensity of passion felt when you first fall in love.
In The real Art World: The scenes in your paintings range from the plausible “Secret, 2006”, the highly implausible such as an anchor floating on the sea in “Drift 2008”, to some paintings that border on the Surreal. How do you see your art and do terms like Surreal distract away from dealing with unsettling imagery?
Lisa Adams: Surrealism was dealing with the workings of the subconscious. My work is an honest attempt at understanding and communicating my reality. Often quirky imagery is used as a veiled attempt at discussing more serious subject matter.
Secret, 2009, oil on canvas, 81 x 62 cm
In The real Art World: Tell me about your working process, how an idea becomes a finished painting.
Lisa Adams: My work relies heavily on detailed photographic reference from which I paint. I prefer to use my own photographs when possible. When it proves difficult or impossible for me to access and photograph a subject I then need to hunt out reference, which can often be time consuming and frustrating. I spend days trawling through libraries, bookshops and internet photo stock libraries trying to find the reference which will enable me to truthfully represent my idea. I never paint from just one photograph. It sometimes takes hundreds of separate sources of reference to piece together a painting. Many of the female figures posed throughout my work rowing, chiseling, climbing, are all the outcome of my own studio enactments, recorded by my husband in preparatory photographs. Though I frequently return to the self portrait, elements from the natural world, often recognizably Australian, also appear. Animals, birds, landscape, dust, fog appear both as a backdrop for the narrative and as the subject itself. I work on a small scale due to the exacting nature of my paintings, working with paintbrushes rated 000 and smaller. I am compelled to overpaint an image 2 or 3 times. It is this large amount of time spent layering and refining detail which I feel can sometimes imbue a painting with a magical quality. I apply a strict work ethic, clocking on in my studio daily around 8am and working steadily until mid afternoon.
Twister, 2009, oil on canvas, 62 x 88 cm
In The real Art World: Who are the artists that at the moment you are looking at, or find their work resonates for you?
Lisa Adams: I am drawn to work which relies on the landscape or seascape to create or enhance the mood of the painting. Internationally, the existential melancholy of a landscape by Caspar David Friedrich, or the dramatic forboding of a seascape by Winslow Homer. In Australia, Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams, John Brack, Gareth Sansom, Rick Amor, Louise Hearman, and many many more.
Divining, 2007, oil on canvas, 60 x 95 cm
In The real Art World: I'm always curious of which colours make up the palette used by the artist, can you list them for me.
Lisa Adams: Some regulars are: naples yellow, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, spectrum vermilion, cadmium red, cadmium orange, sap green, olive green, pthalo green, permanent mauve, burnt umber, vandyke brown, titanium white, ivory black, indigo blue, tasman bluesst
In The real Art World: Finally, what's next?
Lisa Adams: After my current exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, I hope to make a trip into the Australian outback to gather reference for future paintings. I am looking forward to being back in my studio again, working toward my next exhibition.