Mediating thoughts through the creative process
– an interview with Adam Lupton
Lupton (b. 1987, Vancouver, Canada) studied at the NYC Academy of Art where he graduated with a Masters of Fine Art in 2016. He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His works has been the subject of numerous exhibitions around the world, including 'Gradually, then Suddenly' at SomoS Arts, Berlin, Germany; 'Cerberus', GR Gallery, New York, NY and 'Beyond Figuration' at the Cheng Xi Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, among others.
"I have done varying levels of printmaking before which informed the painting process, so I was curious to see if I could pull the painting process into a printmaking form… to see where the boundaries are between what a print is and what a painting is."
Could you tell us about your artistic practice and how it has evolved over the years?
I’ve done a lot of exploration, I’ve gone through many iterations of my style, which (looking back) I’ve been quite thankful for. But even with each progressive change in aesthetics, I’ve been able to see the core of what I’m talking about centres around the same subjects… I think I’m just getting more concise in that, now. Something that feels more of my own.
Your work draws attention to mental health and your personal experience of OCD and anxiety. How do the different mediums and techniques you use in your work express your interior world?
One of the methods I’m working with right now involves stamping - either the repetition of a stamp or a monotype-like transfer of an image. Both of these reflect back into this interior world I inhabit with my OCD: the repetition of thoughts and rituals, and the mediation of my life through this OCD lens. The repeating stamps invoke the thoughts and thoughts and thoughts that pop up throughout my day, and the transfers (usually the flesh elements) invoke the mediation: me painting on a separate piece of canvas and then transferring that over to the main canvas.
You often draw and paint what you experience. Is this something that you intentionally set out to do or something that you unconsciously gravitate towards?
A little of both, I guess? I used to paint less of my experience, or my experience but with an “other” as the subject. I’m trying to be more honest recently, and I think that starts within.
Could you tell us more about ‘Autumn Beds’? What is the genesis of this work? Could you tell us about the process for creating the work?
It stems from this escape I have of just laying down on the floor, staring past the ceiling, and putting on a record loudly (usually Led Zeppelin). There’s something about being on the floor that makes the music more potent, maybe more meditative. The process for this edition came from the stamping process in the painting – I have done varying levels of printmaking before which informed the painting process, so I was curious to see if I could pull the painting process into a printmaking form… to see where the boundaries are between what a print is and what a painting is. I used a bit more of a rigid set up for the prints as I wanted them to be very similar (more linoblock structure, less finding the painting along the way), but they’re all each still very unique when you look at them close up. And I enjoy that blurry line for them: are they prints, or paintings, or editions of a painting…?
Do you see art as a form of self-therapy?
For me, limitedly. I don’t think it really works things out for me, but it forces me to articulate some feelings and emotions, or discover that, yes, that is something I should probably talk to a professional about. But it’s not cathartic - it’s a way to live with it all and steal some positive from it.
Adam Lupton, Autumn Beds, 2022View work
Adam in his studio
What does a typical day at your studio look like?
I’ve been doing a couple of residencies here in Berlin, so it’s a little different than normal at the moment because I don’t really have a commute (yay!). Generally though, I start around 11, have my ritual of green tea and Duolingo, and then paint/work/research/slack off/do Wordle or sudoku/sketch/write until dinner around 8. Every day is a little different, depending on what is pressing at that moment. Some days I’m painting the whole day (usually at the start of a painting), some days I’m not painting so much (usually towards the conclusion of a painting, when I feel things aren’t right and I don’t know exactly what will make them right yet).
Adam Lupton, Human Entropy, 2021
Adam Lupton, Crush, 2022
What or who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from a lot of sources: music, literature, art, my relationships, people watching… I try to allow everything to influence a painting, if it serves it.
What is your definition of art? What makes a good work of art in your opinion?
A good work of art sticks with you - emotionally, theoretically, temporally, whatever. It lodges in you.
If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?
That’s a good question. A Rembrandt or Vermeer or Van Gogh would be nice, but thenwould I be taking it away from the public to view? I would never say no to a big Neo Rauch..
What are you working on at the moment?
I have some things in the works at the moment, more details soon enough!