Painting with less thinking going on. Unleashing the hand’s movements by preventing the mind from telling it where to go. This expressionist precept is the main thrust of the work by Adrian Falkner, who asserts himself as a contemporary painter by reclaiming his civilian identity and shedding the pseudonym he’d been using until then: Smash137.
According to an idea of the Finnish architect and thinker Juhani Pallasmaa, our hands and the gestures they perform are not only the result of our thinking. In his book The Thinking Hand (2009), he states that because our hands are linked to our sense of touch, they participate in building our perception of the world as much as our thoughts do. The hands can therefore be attributed a power of expression almost independent from the mind, supposedly there to guide them. By relinquishing control, forgetting to conceive our gestures, we can fashion things without having first imagined them. This abandonment of forethought to spontaneity is what Adrian Falkner has worked on. What, exactly, is he stating?
Starting from the observation that, ever since he started painting, his work has been highly controlled, precise and meticulous, Adrian Falkner is striving to attain a form of freedom by experimenting with thought-free – but not uncontrolled – gestures. The idea of breaking loose from the chains of habit guiding his hand movement fascinated him to the extent of becoming the core focus of his new paintings. While the features of his art shine though in the sprit and colours of his work, its form has radically changed today. The construction based on the letters of his pseudonym has been replaced by circular movements repeated again and again to form multiple layers, artfully blending colours and techniques. No two circles are the same; they overlap without ever becoming superimposed, an astonishing fact when you’re aware of just how precisely the Swiss artist used to construct his work, both in the street and the studio. But on viewing his works, on realising that Adrian Falkner has abandoned his pseudonym and the physical constraints imposed by constructing his paintings based on its letter, one understands that a radical transformation is underway. And what a necessary one it was. What sincere artist has not felt the need to start out on a new footing?
Paradoxically, it is this deliberate and well planned change that brought him to the point of electing to think less and launch into this expressionist adventure led by the hand, and not his mind. To use one of Pallasmaa’s ideas, the hand stores experience of its own over time, and one that is detached from the experience accumulated, both consciously and unconsciously, by the mind. Depending on what we touch and use: materials, tools, temperature, texture, our hands memorise things that can then be expressed almost automatically. The hand is, finally, not just a tool; it is a tool one can ask to do things independently. Believing in the thinking hand is all that’s needed.
Adrian Falkner (*1979) lives and works in Basel, Switzerland.