We interviewed Philadelphian artist Adam Lovitz on his work–because we love it! And we hope you like it too...
]Where did you study, what's your background?
I attended graduate school at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, back in 2012. Philly is my hometown, growing up right outside and have lived in South Philly for the past decade. My family and friends are nearby, and just as important, honestly, I'm connected to a really strong artist community here. The city itself has this certain aura that appeals to me...perhaps its the mixture of mystic grittiness found in the people and place, or proximity to American history. There is certainly a culture that is Philly unique.
What makes it unique?
The city is a relic of the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence was signed just a mile or two away from where I live. Close to the center of the city is a river that leads you into the Wissahickon Woods, originally inhabited by the Lenne Lannape tribe. Stones and riverbeds are shimmering with a mineral called schist. Philly is ripe with historic and cultural icons, from Ben Franklin to Sun Ra and His Arkestra. There are so many artists, at various stages in their trajectory, that make truly exciting and honest work. The Institute of Contemporary Art, and other institutional spaces put on important exhibitions and programming. And from new to established, there is a network of artist-collectives, which helps bring autonomy to the artist experience here. I'm actually a part of one, called Tiger Strikes Asteroid, which has sister galleries in NYC, LA, and Chicago.
What inspires you?
At this point, it's a process to regurgitate daily life- all the grand and minute moments of observation and experience. I'm fascinated in how an object can possess both the micro and macro...a perspective which has been heavily motivated by Carl Sagan's series, Cosmos. In the process of resolving a painting, I tend to build towards a terrestrial relic which has been dusted or licked with daily rumination.
How do you title your work?
All my titles are arranged in the way signage, symbols, objects, thoughts, memories, dreams, and senses all seem to pass by at our peripheral. Like riding on a bike down a city street, paying attention in front of you to not get hit, but picking up on signals on either side. This builds up a residue at the edge of consciousness. The specific titles typically come together after a painting is done. A title sticks around if there is some sort of charged frequency to the painting. A subtle ignition given off by the painting...not arriving anywhere specific, but leaves behind a note, or even a poem.
How has the Internet changed the way you make art? In terms of authenticity and shaping the way you create your work?
As with most objects, my paintings need to be seen in person to be fully embraced. At least that's what I like to think. The physicality in the material of paint is typically much more intoxicating to me up close and personal, and reveals something deeper than an image on the screen.
When I'm in the studio, it's incredibly limiting to consider how it will exist on-line or even worse, will it receive the sort of attention social media enables. There are often moments I'd like to post 'process' shots on social media, and if I do they are most often deleted. I just feel the painting changes drastically and the post becomes something that the painting is not. In that sense, it becomes a distraction while in the studio.
So while it's in my arena of thought, marketing seems to be a by-product after the painting is resolved, or installed in a show. This is all tangled up in my personal practice though, my own ego. I suppose, like anything, it's important to be self-aware. How are you sharing your "self" to others online, or how would you like to be perceived. How do I want to promote my 'self' through a simulated or filtered template? Ahhh!!! It's complex, and artists of today seemingly have to consider what sort of relationship they want to have to this very psychological platform. Just something else to add to the pressure.
This all being said, while I know some artists that have disconnected from social media, I'm uncertain the next best path to self-promote. If you don't have a commercial gallery or some form of representation promoting on your behalf, I don't know how you connect to a network outside of your own immediate community. Open calls for shows? But that's not consistent. I don't think the internet is the only way to become noticed, and most importantly what matters most is making strong and consistent work... but I'm unsure what the alternative is without a personal connection or alumni affiliation. It certainly helps to go to shows and meet people in person, but even that doesn't always lead to studio visits. I think the art world, or thinking larger- the world, has become very dependent on the convenience of the internet.
In terms of authenticity, how do we pull ourself away from feeling overwhelmingly influenced and anxious by trends in the art world and stay as true as possible to our own mode of creativity? Originality is another conversation, but I think it's fair to consider how internet force feeds us a sense of the popular, so it tends to make one's own unique gesture a bit fuzzier to engage. I tell my students to develop their own understanding of their 'art family' or lineage. Essentially, connect with those that have paved the path before you, while also expanding on who might fall into this family-expand your perspective. Go outside your self, your time, your discipline. Do your research. Go to museums and shows. Change up the spaces you see art from time to time. Who and what came before you. Don't just get caught up in your contemporaries, or those that you 'follow...' but deepen your context.
Art does have the awesome capability to build connection, and I think the internet/social media does hold this potential. One way to make this realm feel more real is reaching out to someone who you follow or admire and attempt to build a deeper connection. An example of this is you reaching out to me and now here we are, having a discussion while on two different sides of an ocean.
How has having a baby changed the way you make art?
Ohhhh.....wow. Great question. Well, I'm still within the state of change, but I think its exciting and setting me up for a fascinating evolution. What a wild ride it is to witness this tiny human develop consciousness. He is constantly 'on.' Incredibly curious. 2-3 days a week I am a stay-at-home dad. It didn't take long for me to recognize the gratitude and importance in the opportunity to simply be present.. of course for him, but also for me. In that state of being, its cleared up a lot up for me in one way or another. We've been going on a lot of walks, listening to city sounds, greeting plants and flowers, looking up to the moon, and in between naps, I sneak up to my studio to mix a color or two to prep for later. I love introducing things to him for the first time( a leaf, a stone, a dog, a song, a friend, the sun, the night sky, cheese....everything!). This re-affirms my connection to these things. Its provided for me a sense of 'realness' in this very peculiar time we are living in. I'm looking forward to how this will all translate into my paintings. At times I bring baby into my studio and have him touch the surfaces and 'feel' color... I think this presence is deepening my engagement to the medium.
We feel your paintings are linked to real, but unreal states, feelings that understand but not really articulate. Possibly because we're seeing them on a screen. Anyway, do you need time to get into a meditative state and then let your unconscious paint? How do you get there or is it different every time; you just do what you need to do?
Yes! It's in that alchemical space where we can tug at cosmic truths. Sounds so grand, but it's nothing more than a stone could provide. I want them to feel innate...whether it's something you've seen or experienced before, but if you think too hard or try to convene with logic, it sort of vanishes. It’s great you can pick that up in the paintings without seeing them in person because I'm often concerned if this can be felt through a screen. The final image is one thing, but the materiality is a bit more precious for me. The process or my state of mind depends on what stage I'm at in the painting. This dictates how I enter the studio. I work on anywhere between 5-15 paintings at a time. Early on, it's a matter of immediacy and play. The further I move along, there are still these tendencies, but with more care and decisiveness. There is a give and take between entropy within the layers of paint and a methodical application or removal of painted image.