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Updated: Jul 2

A Conversation with Adam Lucey: Infusing Pop Culture into Art

Monaco Art Week is just around the corner, and Espinasse31 returns to Monte Carlo at Le Meridien Beach Plaza with "Harmony of Contrast," a stimulating group exhibition featuring the diverse works of Marcello Silvestre, Olga Lomaka, and Adam Lucey. This event promises to be a vibrant celebration of contemporary art, offering a dynamic fusion of styles and perspectives that reflect the unique artistic journeys of these talented creators.

As part of this interview series, I had the privilege of engaging in insightful conversations with these three remarkable artists, starting with American artist Adam Lucey.

Adam, celebrated for his unconventional style, has developed a unique visual identity characterized by vibrant colors, bold lines, geometric abstraction, and a touch of humor. Through a skillful blend of mixed media, particularly acrylic and spray paint, he creates captivating and visually appealing artworks. At just 27 years old, he has established a distinctive and recognizable style, filling his canvases with bold geometric outlines, pop culture references, and symbolic details. Lucey often features iconic animated characters from the 1990s as protagonists in his works, alongside his own original recurring characters.

Adam's journey into the art world is as compelling as his creations. His artistic evolution is marked by a profound commitment to exploring and merging different art forms. Drawing inspiration from the boldness of Cubism and the playful irreverence of pop art, Adam has cultivated a style that is both fresh and familiar. His works are a testament to his dedication to color, composition, and the power of visual storytelling. His ability to combine humor with profound artistic expression makes his work accessible yet thought-provoking, ensuring that viewers will walk away with a lasting imprint of his distinct vision.

In our conversation, Adam shared the pivotal moments that shaped his artistic path, including his transition from a promising baseball career to a life dedicated to art after a significant injury. This life-altering event redirected his focus and ignited his passion for painting. Adam's story is a testament to resilience and the transformative power of creativity, as he turned a challenging setback into a thriving artistic career.

JEMMY: Hi Adam, how are you?

ADAM: I’m great, how you doing?

JEMMY: Good. Can I ask where you are right now? I see a beautiful painting in your background.

ADAM: Thank you. I'm currently at the studio working on some paintings and stuff. In Massachusetts. Here life is great. Weather's great. I love it over here.

JEMMY: Lucky you! Still, are you coming to Europe in the next few days, weeks, this summer?

ADAM: I mean, I would love to. I don't have any exact plans at the moment to go over there, but I'm definitely open-minded to heading over there.

JEMMY: You should go to Monaco because Monaco Art Week is happening in a few days, and Espinasse31 is returning to Monte Carlo at Le Meridien Beach Plaza with "Harmony of Contrast," a group exhibition showcasing the work of Marcello Silvestre, Olga Lomaka, and you, Adam Lucey. Are you excited?

ADAM: Yes. Absolutely. I'm very excited.

JEMMY: You should be! As suggested by its title, "Harmony of Contrast" aims to explore the fusion of three different and distinctive artistic styles: Marcello's classical compositions, the blend of the concrete and abstract in Olga’s works, and the playful yet geometric street art of your works, which have been described as a splash of color, strong-line work, geometric abstraction, always with a humorous touch. But how would you define your own style? Do you have a style?

ADAM: I really like Cubism and Pop Art. So, I like to combine those two. I love Picasso and his Cubism and Andy Warhol with his pop art. So, I'd say I've categorized my art as Cubism pop art abstracts with a street art type of vibe.

JEMMY: So, it's a mix of all the things you like.

ADAM: Yes, I feel like being versatile in my work. So, I like to include different art forms with one another.

JEMMY: You also use a lot of colors in your paintings. Do you believe the color in your paintings is important?

ADAM: I do. I try to make things vibrant and pop. The color is definitely a big part of the painting, in my opinion, because you can have a painting with a certain color palette, but it would be a dramatic difference if you used a brighter color palette. And so, I try to use bright colors.

JEMMY: It's the pops of color in all your works that makes it yours, so it's a very interesting and intriguing choice. Can I ask you how you developed this kind of style? Did you study all these art movements, let's say, or did it just evolve like this?

ADAM: Absolutely. A lot of hours of studying. I study my favorite artists and their work, and over time, I’ve kind of gotten inspiration from that and twisted it into my own style. But definitely a lot of hours of studying artists and art history.

JEMMY: Great. About your painting journey, I recently interviewed art writer and professor, Annie Cohen-Solal, who told me in her interview that a lot of times, at the start of a career, there is a trauma, a traumatic experience, something that happens all of a sudden and changes everything. It makes you seek a new balance and perspective. I know this also happened to you with your injury, right? Can you tell me more about it?

ADAM: So, my whole life, I was a big baseball guy. I played baseball my whole life, I played in college. And, basically, what art is in my life now, baseball once was. Before I started painting, during my last year in college, I tore my labrum in my shoulder. That's a pretty big injury for a baseball player, so I couldn't play that last season. It was definitely a traumatic experience. Without that happening, I wouldn't have gotten into painting. So, it was a blessing in disguise, for sure.

JEMMY: To see the positive aspects of life. But, as a kid, did you already enjoy art? Were you already interested in it?

ADAM: I drew from time to time. It wasn't something that I took seriously. When I was around 14, I started to draw more and went through a graffiti phase. I still love graffiti; I don’t do it, but I love it in general. At 14, that was the first time I really started toying around with it. But yeah, I never took it seriously. Baseball was my primary focus. Before painting, about nine or ten years ago, I started making clothing. I got back into drawing a lot when I was in college. At the time, I wanted to do something with it, but I didn't know what. So, I decided to launch a clothing line, and from there, things unfolded.

JEMMY: How did you shift from the fashion and design industry to the art world? I believe they are similar, but in reality, completely different from a business standpoint. How did you implement this change?

ADAM: Long story short, when I had my injury, I still had one more year left of school. I did finish, but I couldn't play baseball anymore. So, I got a full-time job as an assistant teacher at a school where I'm from. I was doing the clothing, drawing all the time. There's this artist in Boston named Timmy Sneaks: at that time, I saw what he was doing, and he's really great at it and successful with it. From afar, I saw what he was doing and had the idea of possibly painting, and that's how that happened.

JEMMY: Did your family support you on this journey?

ADAM: Yes, absolutely. I've got two of the best parents and a great friend group around me too. They're all super supportive.

JEMMY: You create a lot of paintings that contain references to pop culture. How has it influenced your works? Do you watch and see something on TV and decide to paint it, or is it a more complex process?

ADAM: I like using pop culture in my art because it tends to pull people in more when they know who the character is. I definitely like using pop culture because of the relatability. People are familiar with it, and it has a big influence on my work. I use a lot of characters that I watched growing up as a kid. I basically just think of a character, go on YouTube, watch episodes, and screenshot scenes. That's how I get a lot of my references. I definitely like using pop culture.

JEMMY: You are presenting three ‘pop’ works in Monaco, and I read that these three were conceived and realized in 2019 during your stay at the Espinasse31 residency program in Milan. Can you tell us more about your experience and your residency in Milan?

ADAM: It was a great experience, honestly. Going to another country by yourself when you don't speak the language is pretty wild. It was a great experience, and I loved it. It was probably the best experience of my life, the idea of just going to another country by myself. Staying with Espinasse31 and painting in their studio for a few weeks was really unbelievable. I learned a lot.

JEMMY: Did you enjoy Milan?

ADAM: Yes, I love it a lot. I would like to come back.

JEMMY: You should come visit someday and return to the gallery. Here in Italy, there are many artworks that can serve as excellent references, including Cubism and pop culture. You should come here to get new inspiration for your work.

ADAM: Definitely. I love Milan, and its architecture. It’s a great city.

JEMMY: Going back to the works you're presenting in Monaco, there's one called "Marge Queen Card." There's a great reference to The Simpsons, and I also see a Gucci bag and a Versace pattern, right?

ADAM: Yeah, so the Marge painting—I made another one with it too, called "Homer King Card." It's kind of a series. I like including cards in my work, and you can get really creative with cards, especially if I make the head something like Marge or Homer. Since I was in Milan, I think Gucci was on my mind because it's headquartered there; so that's probably where the Gucci bag came into play. And Marge Simpson, and The Simpsons in general, are such iconic characters that using them as an artist is a can't-miss. Everyone knows The Simpsons; everyone loves The Simpsons. The relatability factor is big when it comes to using a character like Marge.

JEMMY: Also, the Koala field, Versace robe make similar references to the type of relationship you speak about. Furthermore, the last of the three works you're presenting is called "More Moves Less Announcement." I'd like to know how you came up with the title because it was very interesting!

ADAM: When I was staying at Espinasse31, you know how we all have those songs that, as soon as you hear them, bring you back to a certain time period in life? There’s this artist named Russ, and I was listening to him a lot while I was painting in the studio there. It was a new album of his at the time. I knew these songs were going to remind me of when I stayed at Espinasse31 because of how much I was listening to them and how new they were to me then. And it still does—any song from that album brings me back to five years ago when I was there. In one of his songs, he says, "make more moves, less announcements." It really stuck out to me because I’ve learned over time that anybody can say anything, but it's really the action you put in that tells a lot about what you’re doing. So that title came from the idea of focusing on action rather than talking about what you’re going to do. It’s about showing people through your actions instead of just announcing things.

JEMMY: That truly represents your journey. After your injury, you made your moves into the art world. Now, you’re presenting your works in Monaco, among other places. So, one final question: what does the future hold for you? Have you got any plans?

ADAM: I take it day by day. I’m at the studio bright and early, working on new things. I have big plans for the future. I’m confident in what I’m doing and believe in working hard every day. Over time, that effort will amount to something bigger. I try to focus on what I can do each day so that my future goals can be reached. I believe that working hard and being smart about the process will get you where you intend to be.

JEMMY: It is a day-by-day progressive approach, and we will see what the future holds for you. I believe you will have a bright future in the art industry. Your work embodies the pop culture of today’s life and environment. I hope to see your works in big galleries and especially at Espinasse31 in Milano. Thank you very much, Adam.

ADAM: Thank you, Jemmy and Espinasse31.


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