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Victoria, BC
Canada

ineffable is a literature & arts magazine that seeks to rouse and relish in the “unspeakable”: the erotic voice, the spiritual fever, the fiercely beautiful. We seek to provide established and up-and-coming artists with a medium for representation, displaying earnest work and creativity while withholding nothing. ineffable is an experiment in open identity and self-expression.

Painter at Dawn.jpg

Adrian Cox

ineffable stumbled upon the surreal and beautiful world created by artist Adrian Cox. Cox is not interested in representing beauty as it has historically been portrayed; that is, beauty constructed under an objectifying gaze. Rather, he paints creatures, whom he calls Border Creatures, that mix the monstrous with the mythological.

ineffable stumbled upon the surreal and beautiful world created by artist Adrian Cox. Cox is not interested in representing beauty as it has historically been portrayed; that is, beauty constructed under an objectifying gaze. Rather, he paints creatures, whom he calls Border Creatures, that mix the monstrous with the mythological.

Bather

Playing on this disruption of beauty, the Border Creatures are intensely connected to the environment, a force that can be simultaneously beautiful and grotesque.  While speaking of his work, Cox told ineffable, "These recurring characters exist in a state of perpetual metamorphosis. As they mutate, they hybridize with mineral deposits, flora, and fauna, allowing an intense physical connection to their environment. Their transformations cause them to take on the characteristics of their surroundings; the distinct categories of man and nature are disrupted as the boundaries between these creatures and their wilderness home become fluid and changing. I call these figures Border Creatures, as they are defined by these shifting and indeterminate edges."

Big Thinker Contemplating the Sky
Big Gardener as Mystic Healer

"The environment in which these Border Creatures live implicitly become the Borderlands, an interstitial space that holds conflicting qualities in equilibrium. Rather than serving as a wellspring of identity for my characters, the landscape is shown to be as mutable as its inhabitants. The primal savagery of the wild forest becomes the museum diorama, the anthropological display, and a stage built from historical conventions. The scenes that unfold in the Borderlands dispel romantic notions of a pure and unchanging nature, revealing instead a natural world that depends upon its inhabitants for meaning. Likewise, the mythology of the Border Creatures is a narrative of malleable embodiment, in which the qualities that we perceive as essential to humanity are but temporary modes that shift within changing contexts."

Boarderlands (Caverns)

The theme of mutability, in addition to themes of death and decay, further emphasize the notion that we are all constantly changing. In an interview with WOW X WOW Cox states, "You aren't who you were five years ago, and you won't remain the same once you're dead. The term human being is a bit of a misnomer in this way, as it implies that identity is a constant. I tend to favor the label human becoming, and take comfort in recognizing that identity is in constant flux."

Whistler with Flowers
Wound II

Cox disrupts the traditional way we confront beauty in art, using portraiture and landscape to create a simultaneously seductive and repulsive subject. His portraits are of deformed creatures morphing to their environment, mutated, or sporting open wounds. The landscapes are at times vibrant and colourful, and other times, dark and ominous.  Cox states, "There’s a comic absurdity in some of the works that I think makes the characters more relatable. It’s hard to be terrified by a creature that has a bird or butterflies perched on its head, or one that’s wearing a garland of flowers. With the Grotesque, there’s also a level of the unknown and the unfamiliar, which I’m deeply interested in." Despite the fantastical setting and hints of mythology, Cox's paintings speak to a subtler realism where beauty and monstrosity coincide.

Swamp Gardener at Sunset
Ruptured Vessels

Adrian Cox (born 1988) is a painter living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. Cox attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate studies, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with honors in 2010. He obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2012. In addition to exhibiting his work nationally, Adrian is the gallery coordinator at the Millitzer Gallery, an alternative art-space in Saint Louis, and currently works as an adjunct lecturer in painting in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in Saint Louis.

You can stay up-to-date with Adrian Cox by visiting his website, liking him on Facebook, and reading his full interview with WOW X WOW.  

 

 

Words by Julia Serena Ready. Images ©Adrian Cox, reproduced with permission.