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Almine Rech

Justin Adian Tipsy

Jan 13 — Mar 4, 2023 | Shanghai

For the safety of our visitors and staff, masks must be worn by all visitors upon entrance, and negative PCR test result within 72 hours is required while entering. The gallery is open from 11 am until 7 pm.
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Is it sculpture, or is it painting, or is it something else entirely?
This is the question that seems to naturally shadow the conversation surrounding Justin Adian’s provocative work. In Tipsy, on view at Almine Rech, Shanghai from January 13 – March 11, 2023, Adian continues to plumb this liminal territory with works that quite physically reside on a tilt, staunch in their sly and playful refusal to firmly alight on one side or the other.

The sense of unbalance in these works is compounded by their verticality; there is an innate,  oblique figurative reference in these pieces, which hang tall and flush to the wall. But the mysterious, organic forms of their composition confer upon the works a more ancient quality, as if we were witnessing a cairn marking the way upon a trail, or more pointedly, perhaps a totem marking that suggestion of corporeality.

Working in his signature style, Adian conceives of his individual objects through an elaborate drawing process that includes sketching first on paper, and then cutting his shapes from three, layered pieces of plywood. He sands, saws, and hollows out the wood in what he considers a continuation of this drawing process, albeit one that manifests through the use of hand, tool, and physical labor. From there felt is stretched over the shapes and then covered again by canvas. The forms can only come together in one way; Adian assembles them as they were dreamt of in his mind’s eye. The underlying felt gives the shapes their softness, a plush quality that bestows the viewer with an irresistible urge to touch. The perceived cushions of the work, like a soft pillow or the curve of a cheek, long for caress. This conjuring of pillows or skin provokes an acute compassion, and nurtures an intimacy between work and viewer that is profoundly humane.

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Selected artworks

  • Justin Adian,                                      Across the Line, 2022

    Justin Adian Across the Line, 2022

    Oil enamel on felt and canvas
    138.4 x 58.4 x 6.3 cm
    54 1/2 x 23 x 2 1/2 in

  • Justin Adian,                                      Almost Too Much, 2022

    Justin Adian Almost Too Much, 2022

    Oil enamel on felt and canvas
    94 x 50.8 x 6.3 cm
    37 x 20 x 2 1/2 in

  • Justin Adian,                                      Staying Put, 2022

    Justin Adian Staying Put, 2022

    Oil enamel on felt and canvas
    154.9 x 45.7 x 6.3 cm
    61 x 18 x 2 1/2 in

  • Justin Adian,                                      Empty the Sun, 2022

    Justin Adian Empty the Sun, 2022

    Oil enamel on felt and canvas
    176.5 x 80 x 5.1 cm
    69 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 2 in

  • Justin Adian,                                      Hardscrabble, 2022

    Justin Adian Hardscrabble, 2022

    Oil enamel on felt and canvas
    99.1 x 67.3 x 6.3 cm
    39 x 26 1/2 x 2 1/2 in