"In The Studio With:..." is a weekly feature that takes us into the private creative spaces of emerging artists to discuss their work and career.
Joel Adas is an accomplished landscape painter whose work has been featured in more than two dozen solo and group exhibitions around the country. His expressive work often contrasts natural and human elements occupying the same space, and frequently demonstrate the fragility of manmade spaces in the face of nature's supremacy.
We recently met up with him at the Greenpoint studio he shares with his wife, Helen Selsdon, who is also a gifted painter.
Anthony Philip Fine Art: Who are some of the artists you have looked to for inspiration?
Joel Adas: Some of my main influences as a painter are Max Beckmann, Matisse, and Biala. Beckmann above all because of the physicality of his painting technique, the layering of colors and a willingness to let previous layers come through. I love the way in which he can make the everyday mysterious as well. Biala is a huge influence for me also. She can make a field of color shimmer with brushstrokes and paints water wonderfully. Her images of Venice lagoons are gorgeous. Matisse for me is about design and color. His offhand marks to denote plants, paintings, furniture are perfect, never overly descriptive, just the essential information.
APFA: You share your studio space with your wife, Helen, who is also an artist. How does living and working together affect your art?
JA: Art is what drew us together initially. We have had a running conversation about it ever since we met. Fortunately our work overlaps but not so much that there are territorial issues. I think the main thing about living and working together as two artists is that we both know that art is what we both want to make most in this world and that it is sometimes a struggle balancing that impulse with other jobs and responsibilities. We can both be there for each other, helping the other to keep moving forward with their art.
APFA: What drew you to the landscape, and how did you arrive at your personal style?
JA: I’ve always been drawn to landscapes, particularly seascapes. My first love was Albert Ryder. I think the ocean has always been a part of my artistic makeup. Growing up in New Jersey we would often go to Cape May and some of my early and ongoing experiences there are front and center in my work. I’ve arrived at my personal style through a long winding path of exploration that has included photo realism. Now it just feels completely right to paint as loosely and as physically as I can, to let the paint be paint.
APFA: What was a breakthrough moment in your career?
JA: I think the key moment for me so far has been when I was working on a nocturn of waves at night. I had no photo to go on but was working from my head. Up until then my work had all been photo based. The painting came out well and proved to me that I could work solely from my imagination and I have done so ever since.
APFA: You have a wonderful studio, but your paintings have a very plein air quality about them. How much work do you do in the field compared with the studio?
JA: I am a studio painter and can not really work from life. I did so years ago but it does not feel right now. When I am out in the world I look a lot and there are moments when I can tell some scene or building or tree is speaking to me. I take thousands of photos but never work directly from them. It is just better for me to be face to face with a canvas in my studio and to see where the act of painting takes me. I firmly believe that those external images filter through somehow in the process of painting a picture.
If you would like to find out more about Joel and his work, please visit his website at: http://www.joeladas.com