Adam’s World — all about Adam, Anno 2022

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SHORT AUTHOR BIO:

ADAM DONALDSON POWELL (Norway) is a multilingual author, literary critic, and art photography critic; and a professional visual artist. He has published several literary books (including collections of poetry, short stories, and novellas, two science fiction novels, a biography, and a collection of essays) in the USA, Norway and India; as well as numerous works in international literary publications on several continents. He writes in English, Spanish, French and Norwegian. He has previously authored theatrical works performed onstage, and he has read his poetry at venues in New York City (USA), Oslo (Norway), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Kathmandu (Nepal). His book “Gaytude” (co-authored with Albert Russo) won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the category gay/lesbian non-fiction. Powell was also the winner of the Azsacra International Poetry Award in 2008, and the recipient of a Norwegian Foreign Ministry travel stipend for authors in 2005. Powell also took initiative to planning and organizing the “Words – one path to peace and understanding” international literary festival in Oslo, Norway in 2008. He has been an author under the Cyberwit label since 2005, and he has published 13 literary books since 1987.

GREAT QUOTE:

“There are some people who feel that fiction should be easy to read, that it’s a popular medium that should communicate on a somewhat conversational wavelength. On the other hand, there are those who feel that fiction can be challenging … that it’s okay if a person needs to work a bit while reading …

“Much in the way that would-be civilized debates are polarized by extreme thinkers on either side, this debate has been made to seem like an either/or proposition, that the world has room for only one kind of fiction, and that the other kind should be banned …

“But while the polarizers have been going at it, there has existed a silent legion of readers, perhaps the majority of readers of literary fiction, who don’t mind a little of both.”
— Dave Eggers, foreword to David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

Dr. Santosh Kumar’s book on the poetry of Adam Donaldson Powell.

Read some excerpts from the book HERE!

ADAM DONALDSON POWELL – WIKIPEDIA NORGE

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo: an alternative biography, l’Aleph — Sweden, ISBN 978-91-7637-401-6, © Wisehouse 2017, Sweden.

Entre Nous et Eux: contes de fées pour adultes, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-93-85945-77-9, © 2017, India.

Jisei: death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-403-2, © 2013, India.

The tunnel at the end of time” (co-written with Rick Davis and Azsacra Zarathustra), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-160-4, © 2010, India.

Malerier og fotokunst, a short 38-page retrospective overview of some of Adam Donaldson Powell’s best known oil paintings and photographic art works”. Published by Cyberwit.net as a special limited and numbered full-color, soft cover edition (55 copies only), ISBN 978- 81-8253-154-3, India, © 2009.

GAYTUDE: a poetic journey around the world, co-authored together with Albert Russo 1[1], bilingual (French and English), gay poetry, 334 pages, Xlibris, ISBN 978-1-4363-6395-2, 2009, USA 6 [2].

2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel, 135 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-118-5, 2008, India.

Critical Essays, literary and photobook criticism by Adam Donaldson Powell and Dr. Santosh Kumar 2[3], 108 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-110-9, 2008, India.

Le Paradis (Paradise), 80 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-103-1, 2008, India. Inkluderer bilag med symboler fra Universelle Lysspråket, som opplevd av Laila Holand.

Rapture: endings of space and time (86 pages), Cyberwit,net, ISBN 978-81-8253-083-6, 2007, India.

Three-legged Waltz, (80 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-058-X, 2006, India.

Collected Poems and Stories, (175 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-028-8, 2005, India.

Arcana and other archetypes, (special limited edition – hardback collection of poetry), AIM Chapbooks ANS, 2001, Norway (now out-of-print).

Notes of a Madman, (hardback collection of poetry), Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc., 1987, ISBN 1-55523-054-7, USA (now out-of-print).

(Above photos of Adam taken in NYC when he was writing his first published book: “Notes of a Madman”)

 

CHECK IT OUT:

And here is a quick recap/overview of my published books. For more information, please see the next pages of this blog.

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MY AMAZON.COM AUTHOR PAGE: HERE!

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MY CYBERWIT.NET AUTHOR PAGE: HERE!

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“Death is creative, but not picky — she will claim us according to her time schedule and whims, regardless of cause of Death. Don’t obsess over Death. Live each moment as if it were your first and last.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

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My two latest published books:

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ADAM AS PAINTER:

“My ‘style’? I instinctively rebel against being conveniently labelled as ‘this, or that’; just as I rebel against the so-called ‘rules of painting’, or ‘rules of writing’ … or populistic black-and-white classifications such as ‘political correctness vs. incorrectness’ etc. Actually, it is the audacity of these concepts that annoys me. The need of others to classify me, my art, my writing … or anything, is surely an indication of their own egotism, insecurities, limitations and weaknesses. Alas, we live in a world of labels, ratings, and quality judgments based on popularity and price. The closest relevant generic style classifications of my own art might be perhaps ‘abstract’, ‘colour field’, ‘geometric’, ‘abstract expressionist’, ‘minimalist’ etc. But I always find my own ‘mix’ … with limitless variations. My art and writing are meant to be different and new; and pleasing, challenging and annoying — at the same time.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

“Masquerade: COVID-19”, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020, is self-explanatory at first glance. However, here I have left certain features slightly unfinished: the naked eyes, the disintegrating painted frame, etc.; this to suggest vulnerability and a sense of incompletion. COVID-19 presents the unanswerable questions of how effective we really are at masking fear of the unknown, and which “me” peers out from behind the superficial protective covering. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

“The making of a Replicant: Human Pod Project — developing embryos”, oil on canvas, 65 x90 cm., 2019. This challenging work — both conceptually and technically — is a commentary on biotechnology and the future of human design and reproduction.

Of Replicants and Humans

#biotechnology #scienceinart
#replicants

“Forever blowing bubbles”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm., 2019. Portrait is a subjective interpretation of Catherine (a.k.a. “Bubbles”).
“The Impossible Dream: impeaching and locking up ‘The Orange One’”,
65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, 2019. Liberals, Democrats and even some Republicans and ex-Cabinet Members seem determined to fulfill their dream of capturing the sly POTUS in their cat-claws. But will they ever succeed in outsmarting the Donald?

“The XYZ-generations — in Troubled Times”

“X, Y and Z Generations … in Troubled Times”, is a series of three self-portraits, challenging the ways I see myself and the ways I wish others to see/experience me. Today’s challenges are many, and the successive generations barely have time for needed self-reflection in the face of the daily, fast-changing technological, climate and other challenges. In this painting I invite the viewer to face himself/herself in this world where faces and Art are often just another image.

I personally experience this painting as scary and uncomfortable. What I mean by saying that the painting is “scary” is that it confirms the dilemma that I face in today’s crazy World — an “unfinished symphony” that is essentially never to be totally understood.

There were never to be any figures totally painted because the pictures represent people/humanity/me in development and unraveling. The pic of me all dressed up in a fur coat is the “show guy” presenting himself to The World … (x-generation). The y-generation me with the green face is the creative and thinking me — absorbed in my own thoughts and ideas, but battling against those imposed upon me by living in The World. And the z-generation is me blocking out and hiding from The World, the mental bombardments of images, coined phrases, propaganda, advertisements, and the glaring and oppressive heatwaves and sunlight etc. That image is in the largest state of disintegration, the skin coloring depicting a body that is almost lifeless and the head partially covered by a veil of mourning. Of course, all of the images are (as is the Internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, mainstream media and alternative media) manipulations — leaving out ears (i.e. really hearing and listening) and other details in order “to guide” the viewer into focusing upon the sunglasses, clothing and accessories (headlines) instead of seeing the person (content) inside … and we are consequently in a continuous struggle for self-marketing and esteem vs. incompletion and dissatisfaction with systems of ethics and values that both constrain and embrace us.

The painting is “The Scream” that was never really expressed outwardly. And the minimalistic pastel-colored background is the general environment of denial — “everything is normal” — that acts as a sedative, more than inspiration.

NB. See Urban Dictionary for definitions of Generations X Y and Z.

Vanishing Act, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020.

VANISHING ACT.

«Vanishing Act», 46 x 55 cm., oil on canvas, 2020, is a raw self-portrait about being careful what we wish for. While many would wish for the rapid disappearance of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), it would presently seem more plausible that such reference be most applicable to the Fade-Out Star (R Coronae Borealis). In the upper left corner one can barely make out a vanishing star, consumed by the Darkness of Uncertainty — truly Hell in its most natural form. The raw background hints of that in many well-known paintings by Old Masters, but here there is a messy disharmony that is threatening to consume the figure in the painting and the viewer — like an unavoidable train wreck … in slow motion. There are many important lessons yet to be learned from the COVID-19 experience. It is karmic, and in that understanding lies a solace that enables us to adapt to both life during struggle … and to the inevitability of Death. The figure — itself already vanishing behind protective gear — is waist-deep in the mire, but is yet optimistic — if not aloof to the dangers of chance and folly. The true challenge is perhaps not how quickly or how completely we can return to normality, but whether the former normality is actually the problem itself.

« Fluorescent Buddha », 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas. This painting is designed for meditation on peace and healing.

“Rothko gone rogue”, oil on canvas, 65x90cm., 2019 is another of my explorations of the exciting, and over-copied, Rothko-style — here limiting myself to usage of the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow) together with scratching in order to finds new approaches to the study at hand. It is easy to think that the prolific and obsessed Rothko executed absolutely every possible color combination and variation on his main themes. But did he, actually? By the way, don’t miss the two figures rowing in the boat in the blue section of this colorfield painting. The scratching blue waves which overflow across the red background are then perhaps perfectly understandable.
“Burbujas — Fiesta en Málaga”, oil on canvas, 65×90 cm., 2019. This crazy work attempts to unite my passions for colorfield exploration and abstract geometric expressionism. There were many technical challenges involved as well as brush technical acrobatics. I always say that I will never again subject myself to paintings circles but I cannot resist the challenge … or the magic of the Circle.
Winds of Hell, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas.

“Les vents de l’Enfer”, 65 x 90 cm., Huile sur toile; basé sur les six faces par lesquelles nous percevons la mort —
La mort en tant qu’ennemi,
La mort en tant qu’étranger,
La mort en tant qu’ami,
La mort en tant que mère,
La mort en tant que voleur et
La mort en tant qu’amant.

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Writing about Death is not foreign to me, but I have only approached the theme once before in my paintings. Thus, I have made a new painting about Death (which for we who survive others becomes a personal Hell for a time). And regardless of how we see Death, the Hell of loss is still there gnawing away at us … underneath the masks we put on to shield ourselves and others in our grief.

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Here is my previous painting about Death:

Soul evacuation, oil on canvas, 100x150x8 cm.
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“In the thicket”, 40×50 cm., Adam Donaldson Powell, 2019: This painting is another oil painting with a “watercolour effect”, attempting to counteract the solidity of classical landscape paintings with an abstract lightness using various brush techniques and colour combinations to allow the focus of the viewer to simply allow oneself to “walk right into the background and become enveloped by it”. There is no central or overbearing motive … just the experience of being here now. #Naturalistic colourfield
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Reflection: “Some misunderstand me when I emphatically rebel against categorization and pigeon-holing, and against being expected to paint and write in the same styles and genres forever … or to slavishly follow ‘the rules of writing, or painting.’ What I intend to communicate is the constant importance of being original and new-thinking. However, knowledge of historically significant styles, techniques and art movements is fairly (in today’s art world) vital to knowing what innovations one wishes to explore … and why. You do not need to ‘master’ old styles and techniques in order to paint or write in your own new style, but understanding of them technically and in social/art historical contexts will make your new works much more dynamic and powerful. Art involves constant decision-making — and in order to make decisions we need to have some rudimentary understanding of art history in technical and social contexts. This includes creating ‘art’ from accidents.” — Adam Donaldson Powell
“Tribute to Mars: The Great Source and Center”, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm.

La mia svizzera.
«La mia Svizzera», 65×90 cm., oil on canvas, 2018. This abstract geometric painting is based on my travels around Switzerland in 2018 — visiting lakes, mountains, cities and countryside.

I am accomplished and recognized in many areas, including art, literature, performing arts and activism. My life as an activist: my activism began when I was a teenager in USA — as a strong opponent to the war in Vietnam and a conscientious objector to the draft. I was even thrown out of the courtroom of Judge Julius Hoffman (of the Chicago Seven case fame) for misbehavior.
Since then I have engaged myself in the rights of several social groups including the homeless, gays, artists, immigrants and persons with AIDS. I have represented Norway internationally and at the UN in NYC, I have debated with several government ministers in Norway on tv, radio, newspapers, delivered public speeches, and started organizations to preserve and secure the rights of artists and of unemployed immigrants. While I am now retired from activism, I am proud of my almost fifty years of public service as an activist — complemented by my literary and artistic works in support of these issues. I started and ran the organization Artists in Motion (for artists of all artistic disciplines in Norway) and the Norwegian World AIDS Day Art Exhibitions, among other initiatives. I have made notable and documented contributions in Norway and internationally through debates and speeches, music (I studied piano under several renowned concert pianists in NYC), theater and dance stage performances, art exhibitions, publications, literary engagements on four continents, and more. You will no longer find me on Facebook, Twitter, English Wikipedia (Norwegian Wikipedia, yes) etc. I have pulled out of several accounts on all (and also two previous Instagram profiles) despite having maximum « friends/followers ». I prefer space to be myself, and to set my own artistic, literary and socio-political agendas. I market my ideas more than my art and my literature. My art and my literature are representations of my philosophies, my ideas and my politics about Life, the world, art and literature. My art is found in several countries, and my fourteen published books (in all major genres) are written in several languages and published on three continents.

«Le regard … dedans / dehors», 65×90 cm., oil on canvas. Study of integrating several abstract disciplines and techniques, including underpainting, hard edge vs. free hand, figurative plus geometric, Picasso’s earth colours etc., model: Richard Mathews (NYC). «Le regard … dedans / dehors» is about how we see ourselves vs. how we think the world does (and how we want the world to) see us. The scaly/primal-reptilian background is reversible — serving both as a covering as well as revealing our inside moving texture. When I suggest that the reptile scales are reversible I am talking about the dual functions of the skin as a protective facade which enables us to find protection but blending into our environment AND serving as a tight “diving suit” which makes our explorations easier. I find the exercise of changing skin colour and ethnicity of the paintings featuring my models to be liberating — an artistic commentary on the universality of Man. My triptych on Robert Mapplethorpe taught me this. I realized that the color scheme for this painting had to be with Picasso earth colors (from his beginning Cubist period – similar to the work of Braque). All other colors would potentially draw away from the balance which allows the portrait to remain a main focus and still tell the story of “the process” of being oneself in personal and social environments which are constantly changing and challenging us. It has to be both finite and also a blurred portrait image in a blurred background, giving a “near-sightedness ” feeling — at the same time; because that is how we experience ourselves and our surroundings, and are experienced by others. The geometric areas all have bright colors as underpainting so that the black and grey forms are not flat and lifeless, even though intentionally two-dimensional. The illusion of depth comes from the layering of forms — both underneath and over one another. This was an interesting challenge for me. I even forced myself to allow a few graphite sketch lines to remain unpainted — something I have always wanted to try.

“Model”: Tor (in memoriam).

“Visit from a dead lover”, 50×50 cm., oil on canvas, is an abstract expressionist portrait of my deceased life partner. It captures in general, however, the pictorial and other-worldly essence of such visits from the departed, as both the living and the no-longer alive peer through the veils of energy, space and time to re-connect for a few precious minutes.

ARTIST’S/AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:

« What is the importance of attention to background in painting? Ha! The concept of background as a separate entity is an illusion — even in minimalistic art it is both an important protagonist on the stage, as well as the cast of supporting actors. Context Baby … context defines the entire painting. »
— Adam Donaldson Powell

ADAM DONALDSON POWELL (Norway) is a multilingual author, literary critic, and art photography critic; and a professional visual artist. My ‘style’? I react to being conveniently labelled as ‘this, or that’ as vehemently as I rebel against the so-called ‘rules of painting’, or ‘rules of writing’ … or ‘political correctness’ etc. Actually, it is the audacity of these concepts that annoys me. The need for others to classify me, my art, my writing … or anything, is surely an indication of their own egotism, insecurities, limitations and weaknesses. The closest relevant generic style classifications might be perhaps ‘abstract’, ‘colour field’, ‘geometric’, ‘abstract expressionist’, ‘minimalist’ etc. But I always find my own ‘mix’ … with limitless variations. My art and writing are meant to be different and new; and pleasing, challenging and annoying — at the same time. I have resided several places in the USA, as well as in Spain and (currently) in Norway. My art often addresses cultural, political, social and spiritual issues relevant to our day and age.

My aim is not necessarily to produce art that “is ornamental” but rather to challenge ideas, ideals, behaviour patterns etc. that often pass by uncommented. I am further interested in questioning the relationships between politics and art, social media and art and social dynamics in a globalised context which often prioritises (in my opinion) social media short cuts to celebrity-status, politically-correct trends, blatant artistic style copying, and lack of creativity as regards current and future relationships between artists, art galleries, art museums, street art and art on the internet. My perspective is that creativity is now a “human right and a vital resource”, and that the truest value in art today lies not in a long curriculum vitae or social media hype, but rather in the art that is freshly-/newly-produced and the contexts in which it is presented and marketed. The function of art today and in the near future is (again, in my opinion) directly related to the degree in which art inspires and encourages all persons to embrace creativity in their lives, rather than to create individual “icons”.


“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

— Chuck Close

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Sitat: “Det er viktig å ha gode tekniske ferdigheter men kunst krever publikumstekke, publikumsvennlige ideer, budskap og evne til å bevege mennesker — enten til glede og inspirasjon eller forakt etc. God kunst formidler ut fra hjertet og tankene til kunstneren som beboer på planeten. Det tekniske blir ingen erstatning for dette.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

Quote: “It’s important to have good technical skills, but art requires crowd appeal, ideas of public/social interest, messages and the ability to move people – either to joy and inspiration or contempt etc. Good art conveys from the heart and mind of the artist as one who lives on the planet. Technical skills alone will not compensate for lack of this.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

“Wanted: for breaking the rules of Art and Writing!”, caricature/self-portrait, 65×90 cm., oil on canvas, 2018

“Every new painting is like throwing myself into the water without knowing how to swim.”
— Edouard Manet

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“Like Vincent van Gogh, I am an impasto painter. My painting tools include brushes, knives, plastic, rags, sponges, credit cards, pieces of wood, leaves, fingers, hands, feet … basically, whatever it takes to create the effect, textures and spirit of the idea to be conveyed. I paint on everything I can find: canvas, paper, wooden boards, cardboard, cloth, styrofoam, rocks … It is both a passion and an addiction. Lots of dopamine in my brain, I guess.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

“Straight to Hell” — Mapplethorpe in triptych, oil on canvas, 2018.

MAPPLETHORPE IN TRIPTYCH.

I decided that it was best to depict Mapplethorpe in an expressionist style – and almost like a charcoal and chalk painting. This to depict the simplicity he has hidden behind in his public appearances, and in his art photography. The wisdom of that choice is apparent in the picture in the middle, which deals with his internal perceptions of himself, and where the spectator’s eye goes straight to the majestic Cala Lily – The flower of Death – which Mapplethorpe was so keen on. And the flower is so calm and majestic that the drama of the expressionist style is immediately reset in a single glance.

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Robert Mapplethorpe triptych – a work-in-progress. Keywords: Mapplethorpe, tabloid (lurid, sensational) art, guns as penises, penises as guns, splattered blood, blood stains, sex, AIDS, crosses, Calla lily (flower of Death), sado-masochism, fetish, narcissism, pecs and nipples, the body as a living sculpture, perfection vs. the glory of the imperfect, Don Herron’s iconic Tubshot photo. Each panel measures 40 x 50 cm.

NB. Yes, I address Mapplethorpe’s obsession with Black men and their bodies / genitals by featuring Mapplethorpe himself in mirror image — as both Caucasian and Negroid. In this way his desire to completely embody and define ultimate personification of sexuality will finally be complete.

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The iconic Don Herron Tubshots photo of Mapplethorpe was chosen as my model because I actually met Mapplethorpe at his loft when Don and I delivered the photograph to him. This triptych is my “tribute” to both Don Herron and Robert Mapplethorpe.

And here is Don’s portrait of me (in our bathtub in the East Village, NYC in 1978):

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Eclipse/craquelure, oil on canvas, 40×40 cm.
Fishing net embracing glowing bits of plastic, 40×40 cm, oil on canvas:
This abstract painting is about environmental problems related to pollution of the seas — both with waste such as plastic, but also with abandoned fishing nets. The colourful plastic attracts fishes, which consume it.
“Cracking up (Craquelure)”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm.
Aged stone (Oil on styrofoam).
Roses and a teardrop for Las Ramblas, 15×15 cm, oil on canvas, 2017. This miniature abstract painting was inspired by the terror attack upon the people at Las Ramblas in Barcelona. It depicts a rose-floral wallpaper-like background with a line/queue that is broken — interrupted by a single teardrop.

“White night no. 1”, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm.

Not seeing the forest for the trees.
Not seeing the forest for the trees, oil on canvas/mixed media, 60×50 cm.
Bokstavelig talt (literally speaking), oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm.
Emptiness giving birth to Nothingness, oil on canvas, 100×80 cm.
Ascension, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm.
Video game shooting gallery.
In an age when oil paintings have little chance of competing with the internet, television and video games, I decided to paint an abstract depiction of a video game shooting gallery against a concrete background — no penetration.
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Spleen.
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“Tears flowing while walking through the city”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm.

Sunset reflecting through Venetian blinds, onto wooden floor.

Equilibrium, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm., 2016.
Tale of three colour fields, oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm., 2016.
A Wrist-cutter's Glow.
A Wrist-cutter’s Glow, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm.

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«Sunrise in early Spring», oil on canvas, 65×90 cm., 2018.

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REGARDING MY INSPIRATION AND IDEAS …

“I see poetry everywhere. In fact, each and every one of my paintings is a poem or a story … with hints of a song, an opera, a dance, a theater performance.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell

THE YOUNG MAN AND DEATH.

Redefining Cocteau’s interpretation of “The young man and death”:
My painting — entitled “The young man and death” – represents a violent and hazardous order; whitewashed mental chaos with the conviction of purification and with cutting knife marks of self-harm … and swirling depression with so many overwhelming rhythmic atonalites that the blue electricity of pulses and currents are stifled by a huge blanketing whiteness that gives a general impression of calm and control – as long as we follow each breath religiously. It is an atmosphere of violent beauty; the inner environment that cleanses and consumes all the perceptions of the outside world which drives us to the ultimate act of correction and glory: suicide. The whiteness of depression is the light at the end of the tunnel of death – promise of rebirth, new virginity and ultimate seduction. The thick slabs of paint represent the mud walls we erect to keep ourselves safe in our cocoons – in our fortress. Depression does not concern sadness, but rather the construction of our castle in heaven, where our indifference to success and failure can finally flourish. Nirvana. Here, death is not a woman, but the young man’s own psyche. The misogynistic vision of Cocteau will be whitewashed and exposed as a void that disguises itself as male self-victimization. I covered the minimalist painting with camouflage netting, this in order to force the viewer to want to look at the discomfort in the pictures. To look under the veil and then to identify oneself sufficiently in the Mind to be able to look for the veil of Emptiness that is under the veil. Of course, no one really wants to know about another person’s depression – especially if they are suicidal. We are all fighting the same depression and nothingness. It’s only a thought away. The result will be a two-dimensional sculpture painting.

Jean Maurice Eugene Clement Cocteau was very talented, very brave, very “gay”, very famous … and very misogynistic. Only the unfortunate or idiots would be stupid enough to try to make him angry.

“The young man and death In a workshop, a young man alone is waiting. In comes the girl who was the cause of his distress. He rushes towards her, she pushes him away, he begs her, she insults him, scoffs at him and tells him to go hang himself. He hangs himself. Only the body of the hanged man remains. Through the roofs, death then returns in a prom dress. She takes off her mask: it’s the girl. So she puts her mask on the face of her victim. Together, they go through the roofs.
— Jean Cocteau”

More than seventy years have passed since this work had its world premiere. And the idea still haunts me. The story is too thin … a cheap shot designed to shock. The cheating woman has the coldness of a man, and the desperate man (the cuckold) hang himself as the woman demands. The irony is that a number of men today commit suicide after their wife’s infidelity or divorce. But what else is behind this suicide? Surely there are problems of depression and relationship within man before this development? Was the woman really responsible for his death? Is the infidelity of another person really the cause of suicide – or is it just a symptom, the result of a long-standing illusion that can no longer be denied? Is not this another expression of misogyny in the age of Romanticism? And how can I recreate this story / painting – penetrating more into the young man’s psyche – far beyond this woman representing death, who can so easily be blamed?

It’s the same for both or all genders (there are more than two now). Because depression and suicide are taboo subjects, I want to force the public to commit to watching and walking inside the painting. These problems need to be normalized – like cancer and other syndromes and lifestyle diseases.

“It is important to understand and simply accept that all our past experiences, whether joyful or sad, continue to accompany us throughout our lives and greatly affect the way we feel today. Problems can only trigger feelings of insecurity, shame, envy or revenge if we deny that they are part of us. To be overwhelmed by such feelings in the most difficult situations requires us to recognize them and consciously integrate them as natural parts of our psyche. Only then will we be able to develop a loving acceptance of ourselves with all our flaws and shortcomings.” — from www. astro.com

As I always say, a lot of fiction is more factual than readers realize. Cocteau was very misogynistic and obsessed with wanting a son, and had great anger when the woman of his choice (Princess Natalie Paley) rejected him: he said that women were “the killers of poets’ children”, there had been many suicides in his life, and so on – all of which indicate his psychological problems at work in this story.

“Le jeune homme et la mort”, 65×90 cm., oil on canvas. This is my re-interpretation of Cocteau’s idea for the famous ballet. See my notes about this HERE!

Democracy by gun (We the People), oil on canvas, 100×80 cm., 2016.
“Entre Nous et Eux”, oil on canvas, 90×65 cm. is about keeping a frozen smile and trying to remain “politically correct” in a Western world that is literally under “cultural attack” by the sheer numbers of refugees and immigrants, and further complicated by European countries’ relative naivité and unpreparedness for multiculturism. It is therefore that the background resembles the Norwegian, Czech, Russian, French, Dutch, British, US etc. flags with the red, white and blue colours … but which are are increasingly inundated with falling leaves which eventually become lively foreign objects, cultures, traditions, religions etc. — and all the while with more and more persons competing for celebrity, money, resources, ideologies and power etc. It symbolises an irreversible shift in cultural and social values and traditions, and the tensions churning and burning underneath. It is about the new “n-word” which is socially and legally forbidden to express in public forums. The penalty is being stamped as “a racist”, and prosecution.

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Letting go (of love), 40×40 cm., oil on canvas is about the process of trying to move on — without a loved one. The memories of that person become blurred, the pain is romanticised, the sense of betrayal and anger gradually becomes replaced by arrogant self-pity and then denial that love ever was (in fact) mutual. Solace and personal redemption are found written as graffiti on the wall — in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are condemned to be free” (here in Spanish: “Estamos condenados a ser libres”).
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“Faceless animus” asks us how well we really know another person, and how much we really want to know — the stereotypical or racial countenance … or the faceless animus that lies behind it?

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“Talking heads / Social media”, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, 2018, is all about “the buzz” (slander and gossip, #hatersgonnahate, #lookatme etc.) in black and white.

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“Love illusion”, 65×90 cm., oil on canvas. 

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ADAM AS PHOTOGRAPHER:

The London Police - z1

Jernbanetorget 4-z

Storgata 51-1

See my Oslo Street Art Documentation Photography (including documentation of works by The London Police, Galo, Shepard Fairey, Logan Hicks, D-Face, Will Barras, Faile, Martin Whatson and many unnamed graffiti artists) HERE!

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ART CRITICISM:

I have reviewed art and photography: art photography appearing in photography book publications, paintings in public exhibitions, and art photography collections made for / on the internet. Here are two examples of my photography criticism using an epistolary format:

LETTRES À UN PHOTOGRAPHE FRANÇAIS

LETTERS TO AN ITALIAN ART PHOTOGRAPHER

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Atlantis Ritual Bracelet, silver and gold, with symbols from the Universal Language of Light.
Lemuria Ritual Necklace, silver, gold and brass, with precious and semi- precious stones.
“TRANSFORMATION PENDANT”: design channeled by Adam Donaldson Powell, in silver and gold with aquamarine. Note the Eye of Horus and the Six-pointed Star (symbolizing that there are many ways to God/Enlightenment but that all are based upon Wisdom) and the “A”-tone as the mantra device.
Nepali Necklace, turquoise, lapis lazuli and silver.

SEE MY JEWELLERY DESIGN HERE!

ADAM’S ART IS IN SEVERAL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS (in Europe, USA and South America):

“The day after 9/11, oil on canvas” —
In the permanent collection of Rikshospitalet in Oslo.

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A FEW OF MY PREVIOUS PAINTING STYLES:

Y yo pienso aun en ti, oil on canvas, 100×100 cm.
Tainted dreams, oil on canvas, by Adam Donaldson Powell.
Beetlemania / Bugging out! (Oil on canvas, 30×30 cm x two paintings).
samfunnets forfall (decay of society)
The decay of society (Oil on canvas).
Galaxy
Galaxy (Oil on canvas).
autumnfoliage
Autumn foliage (Oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm.)
homage to malevich
Tribute to Malevich (Oil on canvas).

crumpledpaper

“Crumpled paper, oil on canvas, 50×62 cm.”

Austin_oil_painting

“Austin, oil on canvas, 80×80 cm.»

Spring Snow

“Tribute to Yukio Mishima: Spring Snow”, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm.”

“Seascape I” (original of a series), oil on canvas, 120×120 cm.”

“Hope”, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm.

2700chess.com for more details and full list

Dialogue with an Art Historian: Part Three — The Continuation.

Dialogue with an Art Historian: Part Three — The Continuation. 

 

I have a further follow-up to your previous questions regarding comparing artists from different eras. 

I think there’s a basic problem in comparing artists, either in their own era or with respect to artists in other eras. Certainly, it’s interesting to try to detect “influences” (e.g., Japanese prints on some of Van Goghs later paintings). But ultimately, as you well know, what’s key in a work (to my mind) is the ‘sensibility’ (for lack of a better word) of the artist — to his materials and to himself (his soul, if you will). It’s that kind of ‘expression’ that subtly appeals to many of us, even if unconsciously.  That sensibility may involve her/his reactions to events of their time, their era — political, social, cultural, scientific, etc. But, even if a detailed analysis by a critic or art historian can seem to “tie” aspects of the artist’s work to public events or other artists past or present or things happening in the artist’s life, an exercise that seems peculiarly satisfying to other critics, art historians, and even the public, the final reckoning is the viewer’s/receptor’s “reaction” to the work. When you stand in front of the work, it’s just you and it. And each viewer brings her or his own ‘baggage’ — life experience, viewpoints, mood, preferences.  

That’s why, as I stated earlier in our exchange, I have a healthy suspicion of the whole idea of “judgment” in relation to art-viewing and discussion. Yes, I think one can speak intelligently and even non-judgmentally about one artist’s use of a medium vs. another’s. In an online discussion of “The Renaissance of Etching” (a Met exhibition and catalog last year), recently held in connection with the International Print Dealers Association ‘fair’ here in New York, it was interesting to hear several of the 3 member panel note that Durer’s few etchings reflected someone not comfortable with the medium but, rather, who must have preferred engraving (hence, he made only a few etchings). This is a probably historical fact, and interesting in itself, but should not necessarily ‘cloud’ our view of his etchings. What is our personal reaction to these etched images? Can we look at them and ‘appreciate’ them without drawing on our knowledge of how spectacular his engravings are? (Probably not….but we can still appreciate his effort at employing a new technique … and maybe enjoy the images themselves without any comparison with his other works … or with other artists’ etchings.)

As I stated earlier: it seems to me this idea of judging artists and eras began with Vasari here in the West and has not always been helpful in our attempt to understand what really happened in various eras of Western history in the visual arts. (If that’s what we want to understand.) We’ll always have a view skewed by what earlier critics and historians have determined was good or bad and by the ‘canon’ that they have implicitly created. This may leave we who are readers and observers without a real understanding of what earlier societies ‘valued’ in the visual arts and who they thought were good and not so good. A totally comprehensive overview of any era’s visual output is probably not practical, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop trying to get a ‘broader’ view of all that humanity has accomplished — to the extent we have the time away from our own work!  

Adam:

Artists and writers are a cross-section of society … with diverse political affiliations, social and moral values, and financial connections. While I affirm that all artists and writers have a right to their own views, I do wonder whether critics, art historians, museums etc. might have an obligation to present the artist in a context which gives insight into the connections between who they are are personalities and the art that they produce. But what are the boundaries of accountability — for art and literary historians, of critics and teachers, of publishers … and of artists? This includes the many instances of artists, writers and musicians who supported their sponsors in order to gain renommé, political and financial gain, and artistic opportunity. Is there a difference between that and museum benefactors who are known for politics and investments that are no longer politically correct? 

I have pointed out Gertrude Stein’s (and other famous authors’) fascist leanings previously. What do you think of the survival of her art collection purely due to her support of Petain? Is it excusable? How do we separate our valuations of famous writers and artists from their “madness” and opportunism as persons and personalities? Does genius supersede all judgment? 

I have personally reacted to known artists and writers who have expressed themselves to the media and in their art and literature in ways that I considered to be derogatory to women, to persons with physical handicaps, etc.; and I have also defended artists’ and writers’ right to self-expression, but only as far as I feel that s/he makes an attempt to present the case and give context to their xenophobia and/or other discriminatory perspectives … rather than merely make bombastic presentations in order to shock and provoke. This is a sensitive issue and has perhaps always been so. 

Ricardo:

All good questions. In the contemporary scene: what should we make of art museums and others being renamed because the benefactor was tied to Big Pharma ‘pushing’ of opioids, especially oxycontin? Or of the Princeton School of Public Affairs being renamed from the Woodrow Wilson School to a more innocuous generic name after Wilson’s terrible racism was (re)exposed? And what can we say about artists? Should we disavow Caravaggio’s works and importance because he was a murderer? (Many artists were at that time, including Cellini … self-admitting in his autobiography). I think the works have to stand on their own … including Wagner’s. But with sharp-eyed observers pointing out aspects (if any) that may deliberately expose their (now) abhorrent views.

Adam:

Yes, we are all responsible: in our creations, our judgments, our criticisms, our thoughts, our actions, and our non-actions. Existence is an exercise in creation. My most valued compliments regarding my art and literature have been when viewers/readers have told me that my work and ideas have sparked creative thoughts, artworks, and writing in their own lives. I mean for my own work to be an existential and philosophical “dialogue” with the Viewer/Reader … a dialogue that can continue in his/her mind, and thus further, in many forms and perspectives throughout the planet. In that way, we are all inescapably artists/writers/philosophers etc. And we are all responsible. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: “L’homme est condamné à être libre”, a concept which resounds in his “L’Etre et le Nèant” and in his “L’existentialisme est un humanisme”. In his novel “Nausea”, Sartre played upon René Descartes’ “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) with his own discourse: “I am. I am, I exist, I think, therefore I am; I am because I think, why do I think? I don’t want to think anymore, I am because I think that I don’t want to be, I think that I . . . because . . . ugh!” ― Jean-Paul Sartre, “Nausea”. 

 

Dialogue with an Art Historian — Part Two.

Dialogue with an Art Historian — Part Two:

The Creative Space, Consciousness and Initiative 

Adam:

It occurs to me that the treasure chest / vault of art themes, representational images, style periods — along with political, geographic, economic, social status and, yes, art political history — all have created an overall “consciousness” from which all past and future Art ideas are created, “re-discovered and re-hashed”, either through copying of already copied ideas and images … or made with a smug emphasis upon finding one small quirky “style difference” that would promote one to the annals of art history fame. Perhaps it really is true that all images have been created previously, and that no ideas are truly original? But, as with the age-old discussion of whether or not paintings on canvas are now a “dead art form”, the moment one makes such an assertion a “new modern icon” is thrust forth by media, art galleries, art critics, and museums — all of whom are dependent upon finding a newly discovered icon to become the saviour of periodically declining art markets.

Ricardo:

I’m not sure whether all images have already been created/found, but in one form or another I think all ideas and theories ABOUT visual art and its history have already been propounded. There’s nothing new to say, but to make a living, critics and historians dress up in new, bizarre outfits ideas previously (sometimes way long ago) already published.

Adam:

So, where does that leave us? Is the problem our expectations, our restlessness and need to create more hoopla than necessary — rather than just enjoy Art in evolving forms, formats and styles? Is the problem obsession with money and fame? Are too many artists deluded into thinking that art is for most people more than “a business”?

Ricardo:

I think this all should leave us all (artists, “receptors”) in a very vital, refreshing position.  Isn’t it wonderful to be able to recognize and acknowledge that there is wonderful art being created by millions of people every day, not just by those judged by a small coterie of critics and art historians to be worthy of notice?  We’re able to say, “I really like that”, without immediately judging ourselves, not to mention the piece itself:  Am I being art-historically-critical enough in approaching this? Can it match the best of what I’ve previously seen? If it’s any good, why hasn’t it been noticed before?  The latter question can be asked of artists both known and unknown from the last 500 years, the first two can relate to contemporary works one may see.

It’s an incredibly freeing approach for one’s viewing self.  In my case, for example, I marvel at the creative instincts and talents of the children and young teenagers who participate each year in a project sponsored by the Morgan Library that encourages the production of self-illustrated books by youngsters. Their imaginations are amazing, and their skill at combining colors and forms in imaginative ways are eye-opening. 

Likewise, I’ve been startled by the number of impressive, beautiful, pleasing lesser-known works by well-known artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, together with works by many lesser known (or unknown to me) artists (many from Scandinavia) from that period, whose works have been discovered in digital form and “posted” online on Instagram by one of the Instagram subscribers whom I’m “following”.  

In other words, any sense of “guilt” or doubt in our own critical faculties can be lifted if we embrace the idea that we all (can) make “Art”.  Yes, beauty is “in the eye of the beholder”, and that’s a good thing.  What I enjoy, you may not.  We shouldn’t be counting “likes” for every created work that appears and thereby try to assign a value to it.  Nor should we follow the contortions of art critics or historians who are forced at this point to try to create new issues or “problems” in art (historical and contemporary) to write about.

Which isn’t to say that their input isn’t itself enjoyable and worthy of consideration.  But not to worry if we don’t get their arguments, or agree with them.  It’s the art that counts, no matter who makes it or who purveys it.  That realization may be one of the beneficent aspects of social media (though the reverse could also be something that social media ends up creating — i.e., an atmosphere of hyper-criticism, as in our politics……which doesn’t lead us to avoid social media, just to take certain content “with a grain of salt”).

Adam:

Interesting perspectives, Ricardo. Your praise of Instagram for promoting visual art has intrigued me, as it is something I have thought about.

Many are suspicious when I admit that I gave up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram many years ago, for reasons varying from being weary of censorship, haters and trolls, to many of the arguments listed in various articles on the Internet. I have enough to administrate with my five blogs and websites, and my email networks. But I am also intrigued by the structured brevity mandated by Twitter and Instagram, and the experiential effects and consequences of cooking so much information down to a word count or a single image. How does that lead and limit our learning, thinking and perceptions? When is an image just another flash in a semi-conscious and babbling stream of visual over-consumption or garbage? And when does Instagram satiety interfere with our own desire to be creative in our art and lives, without undue influence that threatens our own originality? I tend to avoid art museums and art galleries at certain stages of my creative processes, in order to escape possible influence. The constant deluge of images on the Internet and social media treasure trove can be both a blessing and a bane. 

With no curator or gallery owner to control the volume of images presented, how important is self-limitation and self-protection on Instagram?

Ricardo:

I wouldn’t use any of these sites for anything too complicated or ‘deep’. Instagram for me is merely a kind of cyberspace ‘gallery’ with photos of works of art or buildings or monuments that I can skip over quickly if I’m not interested.  Likewise with Facebook.  I’m always amazed when people get excited over its political ‘content’ because my mind (and eyes) are used to ignoring anything but the messages and pictures from friends that I want to hear from.  One doesn’t have to be ‘sucked into’ all the other stuff going on.  So, for example, I shuffle through Instagram to find postings by the woman (who is herself an artist, apparently) who has been finding and posting on Instagram all these paintings that I love to see.  Or maybe the Morgan’s postings, or the Frick’s or the Medici Archives Project’s.   Not so hard to do.

Adam:

It sounds as if you have good control over what you take in. And you have a viable and healthy plan for how you approach social media. The cyberspace — like Art History — is crowded with imagery, impressions and impulses. In your field — which involves looking at art in historical and systematic ways — having an orderly approach must be essential. For me — as an artist — I feel that I must keep one eye open at all times. This is because the impulses in my environment are often the seeds of future artworks.