Adam Giroux: Beyond The Process
Adam, your subject matter is haunting to me, not only with your choice of what appears to be somewhat nameless faces, but your use of positive and negative narratives. What emotions would you like your audience to feel upon looking at your work?
Each painting is an attempt at evaluating a theme from a particular perspective. For a given body of work, I will try to look at a topic like self-improvement, restrictions, or more recently, the little transactions we have in our relationships with others, and evaluate them from different angles. We all have a resting opinion on most topics, but it is important to challenge those viewpoints and hear what others have to say.
For me, it is a process that aims to find some sort of truth by which I can guide my life, but the part I’m interested in rendering through my work is just the range of available perspectives. My hope is that because the themes are so internally-focused, and presented in a human form, the viewer will –even unconsciously– ally with pieces that echo their own point of view, while having critical thoughts in response to those that don't. With either response, I'm looking to provoke that introspective moment, where they are alone with themselves. That may be disquieting to some, but liberating to others.
How do you choose your subject matter? Are these faces friends of yours or models that appear at an open call? Are there stories surrounding each study?
Everyone in my paintings has been a part of my life in some way. Though many are longtime friends with whom I’ve had endless conversations, some of my favourites sessions have been with new friends or acquaintances, when I can use our working dialogue as a foundation for a stronger relationship.
The process usually includes extended conversations with the subjects about the themes of the body of work, where I can use their perspective and stories as a prompt for some of the visual components of the composition and expand my own understanding of the topic. More importantly, because the subject is engaged with their thoughts about the subject, their body language and natural expressions begin to convey an important part of the narrative on their own, which can hopefully be instinctively understood by the viewer.
Are their mediums that intimidate you? If so, what are they and why?
I can’t say that any particular medium seems more or less threatening to me, but the idea of shifting between them in order to communicate a theme more thoroughly is an ongoing struggle for me. A chef will use different ingredients and techniques in order to build the perfect meal, but I’ve somehow arranged myself to focus primarily on painting. For a long time, it was because I was so dedicated to trying to improve my technical craftsmanship, but as I’m increasingly focused on communicating with the audience, the work may lead me outside the safety of a brush.
Do you have a mentor?
I do not have a singular mentor. I’ve tried to learn through my experiences and through interacting with others in my close circles. My peers in art (and elsewhere) have taught me a lot of small lessons along the way, and I can credit them with helping me to think about steps in my career in effective ways. I’ve avoided explicit mentorship because I’ve always feared that too much respect for a superior’s opinion would lead to a less open and progressive mind, but I’m aware that this stance is lacking nuance, and that healthy mentorships can and do exist.
Are you inspired by a particular genre of art? If so, how is it incorporated within your work?
I was always a fan of surrealism and the idea of communicating broad concepts through sometimes dense and challenging symbolism. That, along with the religious imagery and artwork around which I grew up, made visual metaphors and symbolism a well-worn tool in my toolbox.
Outside of the painting world, the visual storytelling of cinema has had an influence on me. I love the idea of a painting existing almost as a frame within an unreleased film; just a moment within a much larger experience.
What is next for you?
In the short term, I am working on a body of work for a solo show at Gallery House in Toronto in February. The work will focus on the little individual services and gestures we trade in relationships, and evaluating some of them in isolation.
In the long term, I hope to dig deeper into the ideas that have fueled my work so far, and develop further relationships with others so I can broaden my own perspective and produce work that triggers a stronger emotional and intellectual response from my viewers.
Where can our readers learn more about both you and your work?
They can follow me and speak with me personally on instagram (@adamgirouxart), visit my website (adamgiroux.com), or visit Gallery House in Toronto. If they’re in the Toronto area, I’m also always willing to make new friends and work with new subjects for my paintings.