“Under Softer Summer Skies” marks first solo show in Lebanon for American artist Adam Handler
A new exhibition of works by the internationally renowned American artist Adam Handler opened, in his presence, at Artual Gallery in Downtown Beirut.
Titled “Under Softer Summer Skies” and running until September 29th, the solo show features several pieces in Handler’s signature, figurative style that are being exhibited for the first time.
A native of New York, Handler is known for his whimsical, fantastical imagery and faux-naif art practice which he undertakes using a variety of materials, ranging from pencil and oil stick to acrylic paint and crayon. His work often features flat, outlined characters depicted again a contrasting, frenetic background that serves to sharpen the focus on his protagonists. Sometimes, simple phrases such as “maybe you” or “sorry” are included in the work, hinting at a backstory and generating uncertainty amongst his audience.
Handler’s influences are broad and diverse, ranging from medieval, renaissance and folk to the work of Matisse, Klimt and Basquiat. In particular, he draws on the landscapes of De Kooning in his work.
Explaining his approach, Handler said, “I realized that I wanted to create works of art that words could not describe but rather only be explained through emotion. When you view the work the last thing I want the viewer to do is think. Rather, I want the viewer to feel, to experience and to explore the canvas.”
The “Under Softer Summer Skies” show includes a previously unseen series of large-scale square canvases depicting Handler’s popular “Girl” series in three-quarter portrait composition. In key works, such as “Kitchawan” and “Resting in Unfamiliar Woods”, the artist places his figures in a mystical setting, complete with otherworldly flora and fauna, inspired by the nature reserves near his home and studio.
Hind Ahmad, owner of Artual Gallery, said that Handler’s passion for experimenting with new concepts and embracing the freedom that both drawing and painting can bring meant he was an ideal candidate for the gallery, which aims to provide a platform for promising, young international artists.
“The caricature, cartoon-like figures that Handler creates relay a simplicity which is both fascinating and deceptive, taking the viewer into a world in which a whirlwind of emotions coexist,” she said. “I’m delighted to be showcasing his work in Lebanon and giving a local audience the chance to view his unique art first-hand.”