Adam Calwell's paintings and drawings juxtapose elements of abstract expressionism and classical figuration. During his training at the California College of Arts and Crafts, he began to create collage drawings that layered disparate images on top of one another; he now uses 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 his work. Adam's 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. He is deeply concerned about the world around him, and his work reflects his 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 Adam's work reflects my wide range of interests and influences. His 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 he studied under at CCAC. He is inspired by his grandfather, author Erskine Caldwell, and his commitment to representing the unseen and marginalized members of our society. Adam is also heavily influenced by music, movies, and comics, all of which have shaped his identity. He is an accomplished guitarist and martial artist, and these disciplines also inform his artistic perspective.
One of Adam's most important areas of inspiration is the community of artists he surrounds himself with. Painting in particular can be a very lonely and isolating practice, so he makes a point to attend drawing groups as well as share studio space with David Choong Lee. Although the process can be solitary, Adam paints to commune with others and allow them entrance into his 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." - Adam Caldwell
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