Kawaii Faux Naïf
Childlike simplicity, quirky, colorful, primitive––these are just a few words to describe the extraordinary talent of New York-born painter Adam Handler. His recognizable characters such as bats, ghosts, and wide-eyed girls embody innocence and adolescent energy that the very best of artists will tell you is close to impossible to render with fresh authenticity. Pablo Picasso said it best: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Using acrylic paint, oil stick, pencil, and markers, Handler’s child-like and passionate drawing technique produces distinctive outlined characters which almost appear flat, with little to no depth of field. The backgrounds of his works are highly detailed, but rough, vigorously drawn with scratches and markings that appear to spill over the edge of the canvas, conveying a hurried and improvised feeling. Willem De Kooning’s works provided Handler with an “ah-ha” moment: a figure does not have to look like a figure, but can rather reflect the qualities of one. Handler’s large-scale imaginative figures connect viewers to a feeling of warm nostalgia, or even a sense-memory from days long ago.
As a young child, Handler spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ framing factory in New York City, where he recalls the artistic seed being planted. Handler studied Life Drawing in Italy and later graduated from Purchase College with a degree in Art History. Combining earth tones and pastels and playing with scale, Handler seeks to get back to that primal starting-place, inviting his viewer to discard the heaviness of time and really question perception. The artist’s works are deeply autobiographical, inspired by a deep love for his wife, mother, and grandmother. Handler’s work has been exhibited internationally, namely throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.