Visuals of words, leaves, flowers and pills run across male and female faces in J. Adam McGalliard’s amazing series “Projections”. These mysterious and colourful patches aren’t impressions of external shapes and lights rather they happen to be emanations of the characters in focus – reflections of their deepest interests, convictions, attitudes…
“You wouldn’t get this” is written on an insecure and worried figure. All manner of capsules fill a man’s features, signalling infirmity or addiction or both. Roses bloom within a woman–signs, perhaps, of freshness, new beginnings, a highly positive conception of oneself.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based artist explains: “My Projections series breaks from traditional portraiture and incorporates multiple layers of imagery that personify the identities, beliefs and expressions that individuals present to the world. These projections act as a double-edged sword. If spoken loudly, they can starkly reveal something that is hidden, like the writhing tattoos of the Illustrated Man. If used covertly, they can conceal by creating a protective outer hull. The intention is to depict a combination of someone’s conscious and unconscious spheres, rather than merely capture his or her outward appearance.”
As a painter, J. Adam (born 1977, Charlotte, North Carolina) uses visual language to delve into the realm of the human psyche. His works are attempts to understand the world as it really is and to give others a glimpse into how he experiences it. Like Carl Jung, he believes that we are born with certain innate archetypes. “As we age and are exposed to the external world,” J. Adam writes, “we begin to shape our own personalized archetypes through the process of introjection. We then take the stories, ideas and assumptions about ourselves and society we have created and project them back into the world through our behavior, dress, masks and roles we choose to take on.”
After obtaining a BFA in Studio Art (2000) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, J. Adam attended the New York Academy of Art for an MFA in Painting (2003). He has worked behind the scenes as an Artist Assistant for world-renowned artist Jeff Koons and taught painting and drawing at Brooklyn College and City University of New York. His art has been featured in exhibitions at places like the Museo de la Cuidad de Mexico (Mexico City), Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center (New York), Winterrundgang der Spinnerei Galerien (Leipzig, Germany), HDLU Ring Gallery (Zagreb, Croatia) and Stolen Space (London, England). It has also been sold in auction houses including Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury.
“My work has really transformed over the years. The most notable change was after moving to NYC and going to grad school,” J. Adam continues on his journey. “I learned so much in such a short period of time. I felt like I threw everything I thought I knew about art-making out the window and started from the ground up. There are so many artists that have influenced and inspired me. I’ve always been fascinated with a number of artists from the Renaissance, Baroque and Mannerist periods, notably Da Vinci and Caravaggio.
“I admire a number of artists working now including John Currin, Eric Fischl, Will Cotton, Paul Fenniak, Will Kurtz, Vincent Desiderio, Steven Assael and J.P. Roy. I studied under both Assael and Desiderio and attended a lecture Will Cotton gave at the New York Academy of Art. Will Kurtz graduated from there four years after I did. J.P. Roy was a year ahead of me and was my advisor when he was a third year Fellow.”
Check out another great psychologically charged series by J. Adam called “Personas” in which he “depicts and expands individuals’ traits and personal narratives, distilling archetypes and the various roles people choose in order to participate and function in society.” The artist is currently busy with two new bodies of work: “Alchemy”, a series of photorealistic paintings of still-life arranged in kaleidoscope patterns and “Sojourn”, a series focusing on the Hero’s Journey, with figures making their way through epic, mythical landscapes.
Images used with permission.