An irreverent remix of Judeo-Christian iconography and product design, Peter Adamyan’s forthcoming solo show, “Salvation Mini Mart,” will transform Loakal Gallery & Boutique into a veritable supply store of sacrilegious paraphernalia where nothing is holy. Adamyan presents a new series of oil paintings along with an elaborate, site-specific installation that critiques the relationship between religion and consumerism. Loakal sat down with Peter Adamyan to discuss the thought process behind his show, his politics and more.
“Salvation Mini Mart” opens at Loakal on November 1. Join us for the opening reception 6-10 pm. The artist will be in attendance.
Loakal: You’re currently putting together work for your installation “Salvation Mini Mart” which seems to create a place where consumerism and faith intersect. Is this body of work drawing analogies between the two? Is it meant to show consumerism as the quasi-evolution of faith or is it something entirely different?
Peter Adamyan: I’d say “Salvation Mini Mart” is an exploration of how religion is a tool to market ideas and the personal agendas of politicians, dictators and religious leaders throughout the centuries. It’s also about what America holds near and dear to their hearts, capitalism and mass consumption. How the right wing which acts like they have a direct lineage to Jesus ignore the fact that their free market ideals are in direct contrast to Jesus’s teachings.
Beyond that there is work in this show that is more about the conflict between science and religion and how the use of religious beliefs to advance an agenda can be extremely dangerous leading to a division of humanity, war and general hatred of our fellow man.
L: Your work places certain held beliefs in a context that makes them often more ridiculous than dangerous. Yet these recurring themes in your work lead me to believe that you actually see aspects of organized religion as very dangerous. So how much of this is parody or entertainment and how much of this is political?
PA: I think it’s 100% both. Sometimes a specific piece may be conceived just because I think it’s funny, but when it comes to religion that is always coming from a political mind set. Whenever you point and laugh as someone’s religious beliefs and the way that manipulates their beliefs in larger society it is a political act.
L: In your opinion, is there a place for faith in the modern world? Is it acceptable to believe in things we can not explain or should all things be held to the criteria of evidenced based science?
PA: I can’t speak for other people, but there is no room for faith in my personal life.
The universe and life itself is a subjective experience. There is the world in our mind, the way we experience and see it, and then there is the real world. I believe science is the best way to prove something to be true in the real world, and not just in the mind of the individual. To a religious person, god’s existence is as true to them as god’s lack of existence to me. Scientifically proven, evidenced based theories have to be proven time and time again, I think blind faith is no match for that.
People act like a scientific approach to life lacks something, or makes life dull, but I, and many people like myself find the opposite to be true. To be the only species to our knowledge that can begin to understand the vastness of the universe as well as the vastness and mechanics of our own minds is much more wondrous to me then a magician creator.
L: Your work obviously challenges some very strong beliefs. Beliefs which are often considered sacred or unassailable by their holders. Do you think it’s reasonable that some will consider your work offensive or disrespectful? How do you respond to that reaction?
PA: Of course it is reasonable, they probably feel the same way I feel when I hear a creationist say that evolution is just a theory and that creationism should be taught alongside it. It is your right to be offended, and it is my right to offend you, that’s how freedom works.
L: The style in which you paint, for me, falls into a vision somewhere between a children’s illustrated bible and “wacky packs”. There is this dichotomy of innocence (in the images) and sarcasm (in the message).How much of the look of your work is a deliberate mechanism for the delivery of your critique.
PA: I think my technique has very little to do with the subject matter. It probably comes more from my influence from pulp magazine illustrations and exploitation movie posters as well as wacky packages and of course the early Low-Brow artists such as Joe Coleman and Robert Williams.
L: You have chosen to do this show as an installation. Is that the direction your work is headed?
PA: There is a large installation element to this show but there is also more stand-alone work as well. Every show requires its own approach, I will likely do more installations in the future, but only when I feel that the work calls for it. With that said I also want to create work with more dynamic compositions and continually grow as a painter.
L: What projects do you have coming up that we should know about?
PA: Just the standard array of group shows and my first print release with the guys over at 1xRun which I’m very excited about. We will actually be releasing laser cut prints on wood that have the same effect of the wood cut style I’ve been developing over the past 6 or so years.
L: Any final words?
PA: I wrote a rant here about money in politics and how the right wing use’s religion to fool people into thinking that just because they believe in the same god as you, that they have your best interest at heart, but I decided it was a bit much.
Thanks to Loakal and Eddie Colla for their interview with Peter Adamyan. You can get select original artwork, prints and the laser wood cut out pieces from Peter’s latest show on 1xRUN now.