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Revealing the Depths of Human Existence: The Art of Adam Strange

Joana Alarcão

Step into the shadows of human existence with Adam Strange's art—an exploration of societal complexities and existential depths. In this review, we dissect the Canadian artist's journey, inspired by a rich artistic legacy, and delve into the unsettling beauty that emerges when questioning everything in a world shrouded in darkness.

18 January 2024

Art is the corporeal representation of the deeply unsettling knot of humanity, which the artist tries to untie.

Adam Strange is a Canadian artist plumbing the depths of the human condition, exploring the dark recesses of human behaviour and the effects of societal entropy. Adam graduated from the Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1992 with a focus on magic-realism and old master technique. In 2018 Adam refocused his life back to fine art, and has since seen his tools change from traditional materials into the digital realm, but the vision has remained the same… challenging viewers to question the world around them and to live in a world of their own making.

Adam is a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA), the National Association of Digital Artists (naDA) and the Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC). Adam was Publicity Director for the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA) 2022-2023.

In light of the recent global events, such as the ongoing pandemic, economic downturn, and devastating conflicts that have cost countless lives, it is only natural for us to ponder the significance of this overwhelming darkness. Just when we thought that the 21st century would be different we are met with the same behaviours just different realities. And, here lives the art of Adam Strange, a Canadian artist, whose artefacts explore this exact darkness found in human behaviours and the profound effects of societal entropy.

Born in 1970, Strange navigates a generational gap, and his art and philosophy embody that praxis. Drawing inspiration from his father's exploration of abstract expressionism in the 1950s New York art scene and the inherited sentiment of "question everything", his art creates an environment shaped by the constant critical analysis of the inner and collective reality. Furthermore, his artistic perspective was significantly moulded by his early school professor, Carmen Cereceda, a Chilean muralist who was once an assistant of Diego Rivera. She guided the artist on magic-realism and old master techniques. This upbringing around his father's philosophy and strong academic guidance instilled in him a strong sense of critical thinking and storytelling prowess.

Digital Consequences by Adam Strange. Image courtesy of Adam Strange.

"Art is not just a way to ask questions of oneself or others, but to define yourself and the reality you live in. There is no authority but yourself. Art becomes the corporeal representation of this deeply unsettling knot of humanity, which I try to untie. Through my work, I have represented the world as I see it, darkly disturbing, unstable and cloaked in appearances that may not portray its true character or motive. " 

When examining the work of Strange you are confronted with images that provoke a sense of unease and introspection. Each piece, while unique, exudes a feeling of deep introspection and existential exploration, as if the artist is grappling with inner struggles while also observing the external world. The Monument of Corruption embodies these ideas, illuminating how corruption breeds rot and decay of identity and the body. This yellowish-colored figure riddled with holes and distorted features seems to symbolize the erosion of moral values and the detrimental effects of corruption on individuals and society. As the name suggests, the artwork opens a window to the "profane and the decrepit monuments humanity leaves behind."

Monument of Corruption by Adam Strange. Image courtesy of Adam Strange.

"These days truth and lies are indistinguishable, issues and attitudes are binary, and the perils of conflict and intimacy result in the digital separation of the self from the physical." the artist told me." It feels as though it's a new world order of great upheaval on a global scale. Is this human trend of dissolving truth and lies, naturally occurring, an effect of technology or memes?"

The artist crafts images that disrupt visual and emotional satiation, recontextualizing existing content to provoke new relationships. His black-and-white work, devoid of colour, forces viewers to confront a binary world, using light and shadow as the primary language for interpretation. Another element of his work explores the deceptive essence of reality, recognizing it as a deception, an exploitation, a deceit. The artist explores the impact of technology, predicting a future where A.I. "fake" images replace human-made ones, leading to an artificial reality detached from nature, truth, and humanity.

The Weight by Adam Strange. Image courtesy of Adam Strange.

"The consequence of technological use is an extension of the human being, not just physically but into an artificial reality. A reality that does not include social currency, empathy or reason. The consequences of living in this artificial reality are becoming clear. Fake news, fake photos, fake people, fake art, fake everything, until we live an artificial life that breaks the relationship between nature, truth and humanity."

In embracing the phrase "You're already dead," Strange confronts the decay of meaning, reason, and purpose in a world on the brink of monumental change. His art serves as a documentation of our times, a cynical, pessimistic, and ironic view that pierces the veil of lies to reveal the "Essentia" - the world as it truly is.

"Some artists make art to show the beauty of the natural world, while others, make art to explore materials. I’m compelled to document the times we live in. To stop looking inward, but sponge up all that human activity and feel the revulsion to our species. The best we can do is try to pierce the veil of lies to realize a truth. To make people aware of what life means by imagining a world without them. Artifacts of an extinct species. "

Burial by Adam Strange. Image courtesy of Adam Strange.

When looking at Adam Strange's work you question your preconceived notions of reality. Are my ideas formulated from what I believe to be truth or do they come from the lies media and people feed individuals? Although I cannot answer these questions, I strongly encourage approaching Stange's art with an open and unbiased mindset. His art will challenge you to question your reality, offering a poignant reflection on the human experience and the evolving landscape of truth and lies. 

If you wish to know more about the artist's work, go have a look at his website and the interview on Patreon.

Cover image:

Biotic Taphonomy by Adam Strange. Image courtesy of Adam Strange.

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