acrylic paint staining and oil paint on linen
117 x 217 cm, 117 x 102.5 cm per panel
Twin Tempests depicts a scene of stormy seas with a peculiar mix of various bird species captured within the same frame. The painting is a mirroring diptych done in a batik-adjacent wax-resist technique that creates an aesthetic bordering between naturalism and flattened stylization.
De Boer is an avid surfer, and this painting is about a winter storm that the artist experienced on the beach in Southern California. The day it happened, the sky had been dark at the beach all day, but then there was a break in the clouds on the horizon and the wind came up. As the weather changes, the black crows and white seagulls circle all around the artist. All the while, the cool and collected pelicans flew in a tidy crisp line at the horizon, hunting for fish. While at first glance those birds do not belong together, but because of California’s ecological composition the coexistence of the three species becomes possible. In this aspect, the painting teters the balance between being “possible fantasies” and “realistic idealism”, not completely fantastical, yet curated enough that it is not completely natural.
In his recent work, De Boer paints birds against the California city landscapes as a metaphor for migration and cultural diversity. While not intentionally talking about racial tension, because of the political landscape it is created in, a racial justice approach to reading this work becomes a totally valid point of view.
Duplication becomes a recurring theme in Adam’s artwork, firstly because he has a twin brother, so the theme of “pairing” and “mirroring” comes naturally when talking about identity. The symmetrical composition in this painting was inspired by The Coronation of the Virgin by Quarton however the existence of the human figure is replaced by naturalistic rendition of birds. In this work, the artist creates order out of chaos. Through the means of mirroring, the composition becomes automatically symmetrical.
Jendela Pagi (Morning Window)
wax-resistant acrylic ink, rabbit skin glue, and oil paint on linen, woven bamboo
75.5 x 70.5 x 3.5 cm
Jendela Malam (Night Window)
wax-resistant acrylic ink, rabbit skin glue, and oil paint on linen, with woven bamboo
75.5 x 70.5 x 3.5 cm
Jendela Pagi (Morning Window) and Jendela Malam (Night Window) are two mirroring paintings commenting on the convention of Mooi Indie and on Adam’s Dutch-Indo heritage.
Each painting is composed of three layers. Working from the inside out, the first layer depicts an idyllic representation of Yogyakarta’s countryside painted in plein air manner. Barely visible in the paintings’ backgrounds, mountains serve as a backdrop for the palm tree and rice fields that occupy each foreground; the Mooi Indie trifecta. One painted at mid-day and the other at night, de Boer evokes the ‘series paintings’ of French-impressionists, such as Monet’s Rouen Cathedral, albeit momentarily. For as one moves beyond the canvas’ borders, this association begins to crumble. The second layer is a simplified rendering of laid stone walls, representing the built environment of Yogyakarta, and also a metaphor for the archipelago during the colonial era. The outermost layer is bamboo weaving, akin to the walls of traditional Indonesian houses.
In this work, Adam creates a distinct composition that diverges from the idealism of early 20th century Mooi Indie landscapes. The two visual styles are an antithesis of each other, just like the two sides of his identity, working together to create a new hybrid and unique appreciation of the Indonesian landscape.
Adam de Boer
(b. California, USA, 1984)
Adam de Boer graduated with a BA in Painting from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2006) and an MA in Fine Art from the Chelsea College of Art, London (2012). Recent exhibitions include Gazelli Art House, London (2021); The Hole, New York (2021); ISA Art + Design, Jakarta (2020); Hunter Shaw Fine Art, Los Angeles (2020/2018); Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2020); World Trade Centre, Jakarta (2018); and Art|Jog, Yogyakarta (2018/2015). In 2017, de Boer was awarded a Fulbright research fellowship to Indonesia.
Other grants include those from Arts for India, The Cultural Development Corporation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and The Santa Barbara Arts Fund.
For the past ten years, de Boer has travelled throughout Indonesia to investigate his Eurasian heritage. His recent work employs imagery and traditional crafts from the region as a way to connect his artistic practice with those of his distant cultural forebears. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.