In the Studio: Sylvie Adams

A painter with the sensibilities of an architect, Montreal-based Sylvie Adams creates striking abstracts that are grounded in materiality and the elusive sense of a third dimension. Read on for a closer look at the push and pull that anchors her expressive mixed media works.

Like many artists, Sylvie’s path to a full-time painting career didn’t travel a straight line. After pursuing a more practical degree in Design (with, of course, a minor in Visual Art), she went on to earn her Masters in Architecture. Her essential duality, of an artistic, creative spirt, and a logical, rational being seeking to understand the structural frameworks of the world, would become a central character in her work.

When the desire to express herself and create in a form without rules and strictures became overwhelming, Sylvie stepped away from an almost fifteen year career in design to focus full-time on painting. Despite leaving that world, her background in design and architecture informs her creative work in an inescapable way. The chemistry training from her architecture program lends an alchemical bent to her experimentation with solvents and mediums, and even on a flat canvas her work contains a builder’s secret sense of a third dimension.

“As an artist, I wanted to express myself in a different way, with more freedom and emotion, to create something that does not exist, that has no barrier, no limit, nor any kind of realistic representation.”

Another mark of her professional background, Sylvie’s paintings have a deep sense of materiality. Fascinated by the mutability of her paints and solvents, she allows not only her brush but the elemental forces of time and gravity to influence the marks on her canvas. Drips and smears that could appear random are more intentional than you might think, planted with the forethought of a chemist.

Sylvie views her work as a function and expression of her subconscious, her inspiration absorbed passively as she simply moves through day to day life. Each painting begins as she holds that delicate and difficult space of pure intuition, putting paint to canvas without thinking. As she works, she lets the material – and the outside forces that influence it – take control and build the framework of the piece. Finally, when the moment is right, she allows her consciousness back in and begins to make marks with intention, working slowly and deliberately until the piece feels complete.

“When I started doing abstracts, I thought mistakenly that I would get bored easily. But what I found was a whole world filled with difficult and exciting challenges. In abstraction, you cannot rely on representation to give meaning to your work. Each painting is a challenge in itself, where you strive to express yourself with an economy of strokes, to sublimate the essence of each painting.”

Click the link below to browse our collection of works from Sylvie Adams on Artsy.