We are pleased to present The Sunset Cycle, Adam de Boer's second solo show with Taymour Grahne Projects. The exhibition opens at Cromwell Place (Wing Gallery) on January 16. Accompanying the exhibition is a text by Daniel Owen, who is a poet, translator, and PhD student in UC Berkeley's Dept. of South & Southeast Asian Studies. His research focuses on Indonesian poetry and social change from the 1980s to the present.
Opening: January 16, 6-8 PM (RSVP needed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Exhibition dates: January 17 - 21
Opening Times: Wed - Sat, 11 - 7 PM and Sun, 11 - 4 PM
Address: Cromwell Place (Wing Gallery) 4 Cromwell Pl London SW7 2JE
The Sunset Cycle, by Daniel Owen
With his latest exhibition, “The Sunset Cycle,” painter Adam de Boer deepens his ongoing practice of using batik painting processes to portray scenes of everyday life in Los Angeles, the city where he lives and works. The show’s heart is the eponymous “Sunset Cycle,” a four-piece series that takes the viewer on a walking tour of Sunset Boulevard. Each painting depicts a different season and time of day. The series dawns with “Winter in Echo Park” and moves westward towards the Pacific Ocean, that great terminal of the American sun. Along the way the quadriptych leads us through early afternoon’s “Spring in Hollywood” and late afternoon’s “Summer in Beverly Hills,” concluding with dusk’s “Fall in the Palisades.” The “Sunset Cycle” itself is accompanied by eight additional batik paintings that depict discrete LA scenes, collectively titled “Other Views.”
Having initially started experimenting with batik by trying to teach himself from books and YouTube videos in 2011, de Boer has continuously refined his facility with the medium and his knowledge of the traditional uses of the Javanese form, ever since. De Boer studied batik intensively during his 2014 residency at Cemeti Art House in Yogyakarta and then delved deeper with an extended study of the medium on a Fulbright Fellowship in 2017-2018. De Boer’s earlier batik investigations engaged with his Indo (mixed European and Indonesian) heritage and his experiences as a California-raised painter and surfer on a complex pilgrimage to a Java both ancestral land and foreign country. These paintings thematically foregrounded questions of colonial legacy and cultural hybridity, with compositions involving colonial-era batik motifs and ceramic tile patterns, and references to both Raden Saleh’s proto-nationalist naturalism and the exoticized landscapes of Dutch Mooi Indië painting.
After returning to his studio in Los Angeles in 2019, de Boer began to paint studies of the city, bringing his increasingly adept facility with batik processes together with an interest in and aptitude for realism’s careful, caring attention to the visible world. With “The Sunset Cycle” we find a striking realization of this distinctive fusion. De Boer initiated this work with the impressionist practice of going out to a particular place and trying to see the exact colors of things—the precise green of the grass and blue of the sky. From there, he translated that seeing by first drawing the initial image with a canting, a pen-like tool for applying hot liquid wax onto the linen. Then he composed the image by daubing thinned-out acrylic paint into the spaces cordoned off by the wax lines, a method called batik colet whereby color is applied directly to each specific segment of the fabric, rather than using the dye bath more common to traditional batik production. Finally, the painting’s details and finishes were achieved with oil paint glazing and scumbling.
In these paintings de Boer uses batik to render his daily environments as naturalistically and specifically as possible, without moralizing or commentary. The specificity of the location and the acuity of empirical observation—the visual experience of the place as transmitted through the painter’s sensibilities—becomes the focal point. By experimenting with the particular affordances of batik colet, de Boer is able to capture the changing light of Los Angeles, that mythic California sun, in subtly expressive color gradients.
Though instigated by inquiries into process and form, “The Sunset Cycle” is not, however, solely occupied with observational acuity and formal beauty. As with the best of Edward Hopper’s works, de Boer’s exquisite rendering of human subjects in urban environments quietly leads the viewer to reflect on the forms of social and spiritual alienation that proliferate just beneath the surface of modern American life. Yet instead of Hopper’s well-known interiors of New York nights, de Boer gives us the obverse: Dazzling sunshine, warm persimmon hues, bodies in motion. In “Summer in Beverly Hills,” for instance, a woman in the foreground waits for the bus, phone in hand, while in the middle ground someone stands pensively on the corner, waiting to cross. Beside her, we see a man walking, his back to the viewer, lugging a heavy brown bag on his shoulders. Various hues of green—tree leaves, grass, t-shirts, and topiary—bind the image. Cars roll past through the late afternoon light while the pastel pink façade of the Beverly Hills Hotel stands silent sentinel over the scene. The rhythm of the bold lines of off-white linen—marks of absence where the wax had lain—imbue the composition with a distinctively shimmering quality. The degree of expressive detail in the subjects and the quality of Southern California light that de Boer captures is stunningly beautiful. There is something at once comforting and disturbing about this beauty. As with much of the best of the realist tradition, “The Sunset Cycle” bears a subtle, provocative humanist social critique, causing us to reflect on what we are habituated to see and what remains occluded, even in broad daylight. These astutely observed and dynamically executed images of Los Angeles in the 2020s capture the brilliant surface of visual experience; and in doing so they release a glimpse of the haunted reality of their moment, in all its brutality and rapture.
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 The Pit, Los Angeles (2023); Gajah Gallery, Jakarta and Singapore (2023, 2022); Ben Brown Fine Arts, London and Hong Kong (2022); Taymour Grahne Projects, London (2022); The Hole, New York and Los Angeles (2023, 2022); Hunter Shaw Fine Art, Los Angeles (2020/2018); World Trade Centre, Jakarta (2018); and Art|Jog, Yogyakarta (2018/2015). De Boer is currently a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellow and in 2017 was awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship to Java, Indonesia. Other grants include those from the University of the Arts, London + Arts for India, The Cultural Development Corporation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and The Santa Barbara Arts Fund. Adam de Boer lives and works in Los Angeles.