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Artist Profile: Adam Handler

Adam Handler, Sisters by the Sea, 86x96, Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas, 2017
Adam Handler, Sisters by the Sea, 86x96, Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas, 2017

Last year, while scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon the work of Adam Handler and was intrigued to follow along.  His paintings are physical, haptic, colorful and almost primitive. His language in painting does not appear academic – although he did study Art and Art History at SUNY Purchase. His inspirations for his work stem from the three most important women in his life: his wife, his mother, and his grandmother.


Adam Handler, Spider Rose, 52x44in., Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas 2017

Specific features like eyes, lips, hair and arms are pronounced and distorted in his paintings. This is his endearing and strange way of showing you what he cares about. The scale is fairly large and a combination of fluid acrylic and oil stick on canvas. The pace of the oil stick is applied with speed and leaves enough of the under painting for you to realize these are very simple, yet highly worked paintings. They reference Jean Debuffet and children’s drawings. While they lack realistic space, they somehow invite you in and kindly confront you with their physicality.   

These are not always “beautiful” paintings – they do not gleam with linseed oil and reflect light like paintings of John Currin. Handler is certainly not painting women like Currin, and that is just fine by me. Perhaps it is the unmitigated approach and the simple forms – or maybe it’s the reference to youth – but his paintings make me feel excited, hopeful and keep me on my toes.

Adam Handler, Sisters by the Sea, 86×96, Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas, 2017

I am drawn to Adam Handler’s work because of his unfiltered and passionate commitment to his subject and the process in which he gives them attention. Big eyes, flowers, hair and patterns dance across his paintings with confidence and an intention that shines and reflects a sort of admiration I can’t help but respect.

Adam Handler, Italian Girl, 52x44in., Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas, 2017

I suggest you follow Adam along on his journey. He has just moved out of his Long Island Studio to a larger and calmer environment outside the city in Armonk, NY – where I suspect he will find even more delight in his paintings.

Instagram: @adamhandlerstudio


Adam Handler, Rose Girl, 76x60in, Oil Stick and Acrylic on Canvas, 2017