Pillow Talk: Justin Adian at Skarstedt

Contributed by Kenneth Nicholson / With “Fort Worth,” Justin Adian guides us through a realm of  eye candy: voluptuous mounds of enamel, canvas, and foam. This assembly of sensually charged objects displays Adian�s acute attention to how objects interact, and the ways in which viewers personify them. Pillow-like masses hug the gallery walls at traditional eye level, and hide inside nooks and peek around corners. This unorthodox placement enhances the organic quality that the pieces already possess by virtue of their suggestive shapes.

[Image at top: Justin Adian, Slow Goodbye, 2015, oil enamel on ester foam and canvas, 24 1/2 x 25 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.]

Justin Adian, installation view. 

Slow Goodbye nicely displays Adian�s flirtatious sensibilities. The work features two soft sculptures cupped together in a manner that evokes the act of touching. The pale blue mass presses against a shiny pink surface that seems to yield to the blue form�s pressure. Lavender light bounces between the two bulges, and the shadows are violet. Taut folds in the pink material imply the compression of the blue piece�s affectionate embrace. The precise nature of the materials used is not immediately apparent, and the uncertainty as to their composition and properties–for instance, how it might feel to touch them–further engages the imagination.

Justin Adian, Orange Crush, 2015, oil enamel on ester foam and canvas, 36 3/4 x 42 3/4 x 3 inches.

The most striking aspect of Adian�s work is the way it straddles painting and sculpture. The pieces ease from one identity to the other without losing the salient qualities of either. The savory silver-and-yellow abstraction may nourish the formalist, but the three-dimensional curvature introduces a tactile quality and, beyond that, an erotic narrative. Certainly there is much more going on than the exploration of color theory and compositional principles. Adian excels at the power of suggestion. With impressive command, he establishes a unique dialogue between painting and sculpture, producing an array of sensations considerably more expansive than a less eclectic and adventurous approach would have yielded.

Justin Adian, Guard, 2015, oil enamel on ester foam and canvas, 13 x 5/12 x 2 inches.

Justin Adian, installation view. 

Justin Adian: Fort Worth,” Skarstedt Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through October 24, 2015.

Related posts:
Interview: Sophia Flood in Gowanus
Painting? Painting?


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *