Whether or not you understand art that is considered abstract, there’s no denying that Adam Ummar's (@univorso) mastery of colours and textures go beyond the canvas. Through his vibrant, psychedelic style, he explores themes of spirituality, philosophy, emotions and the human condition whilst beautifully toeing the line between the sublime and the tangible.
You describe yourself as a "self taught" painter — how did you learn to hone your craft when you first started?
By constantly creating, failing, experimenting and creating, consistently. Exploring different materials, tools and techniques. Cultivating a spirit of discovery and curiosity and being open to trying out new methods and unconventional creative processes.
Tantamount to improving my creative practice is trusting the creative process, embracing mistakes and less than spectacular outcomes. Speaking to other artists and learning from their creative practices have also helped me improve mine.
The internet is a minefield of valuable information and resources for anyone interested in learning a new skill. Youtube is particularly helpful as there is a trove of educational and informational videos for artists and creatives, it most closely resembles real-life learning due to its audiovisual nature minus the tactility.
How do you see colour?
I see colors as having rich histories embedded in it and with distinct effects on human psychology. By exploring how different colors interact with each other I attempt to probe deeper into the role color plays in visual language and human society.
Colors are a shorthand for expressing personality, ideologies and meaning. The reason why we ask other people what their favorite color is a way to glean into who they are as a person and what are their likes, dislikes, affinities and allegiances.
I think it is quite interesting that colors trend and fade in relevance in fashion, art, product design, graphic design, brand identity etc. I suppose every age has its own color representing the zeitgeist of a particular time.
Who/what are your constant muses?
It might not sound exciting, but my constant muse is the everyday world around me. There is a way of looking at even the most mundane objects, events and phenomena; and looking at it through a critically creative lens. Exploring photography as a pastime helped me to visually analyze and deconstruct my environment and surroundings.
Altered states of consciousness such as dreams, visual hallucinations brought on by psychedelics and visions in deep meditation are a constant source of tremendous inspiration to me as well.
I think what it takes for something to be considered art is the courage or ingenuity to call it art.
Can you share with us what your art philosophy is?
As a visual artist, my art is a way to ignite conversations through visual works. I believe that arresting visuals with intellectual complexity and depth is my way of contributing to public discourse. Be it on art, mental health, religion etc.
Abstract art is inherently open ended, and I believe my art to be so. Take away my writing explaining my artworks and the viewers of my artworks supplement profound and compelling interpretations of my body of work.
Bauhaus is an important art movement that informs my practice, I believe that art should be democratic. It has to be for everyone and has to be purposeful; not necessarily in the pragmatic sense, if my art helps people to get in touch with their own emotions and help others see things in a new light then it has achieved its purpose.
Art for me is primarily a spiritual experience, great art resides in the domain of the mystical and spiritual. I think that art galleries and museums serve as secular institutions that improve our well-being, give us a sense of purpose and connection to something beyond formal logic or meaning.
Top 3 underrated colours?
Black, white, grey. Relegated to non-colors, these 3 colors work with any colors. Though my artworks are vibrant and kaleidoscopic-like, I dress in mostly monochromatic tones. An all-black get up being my go-to uniform.
Are you someone who plans out what they want to paint or lets the brush guide you?
Both. I have different approaches to creating abstract works. If I’m creating a piece to express an emotion, I use my intuition as a guide. Intuitive abstract painting suspends formal considerations of what makes a work of art “good”.
This is a more liberating way of painting and sometimes the greatest discoveries in my creative practice were made when I just focused on the act of painting instead of worrying on the outcome.
If I’m working on a commission, or exploring a particular idea/concept or working on a new series of works etc. My creative process is as follows: Brief > Research (Reading & Writing) > Visual research > Visual moodboard > Sketches, color swatch tests > Creating the piece.
The second method is a more design-based approach to creating art.
Not all of my ideas actually make it to the creation part. However, I use the moodboards, sketches, research from unrealized works for other artworks.
In your own words, what is your personal artistic style and how has it evolved?
The keyword would be: abstract. When I began creating art many years ago, I explored different art styles: realism, conceptual and figurative. Abstract art made an indelible impact on me as it helped me express the inexplicable.
Beginning from a more graphic, minimalist and geometric style, over time my style has developed to be more organic, fluid and psychedelic.
I am excited to see how my art style progresses and develops over the years.
How did you first get into abstract painting?
I became interested in abstract painting by way of Yayoi Kusama, I was interested in how she used art as a way to cope with her mental health issues. When I began painting, it was never with the intention to turn it into a full-time career, I painted as a form of therapy and as a way to work through my emotions and depict my experiences living with a mental illness.
The therapeutic and meditative act of painting, helped me regain my sense of self and sense of control over my life. I hope to encourage others to paint, to create art for the sake of art.
As a creative who deals with the abstract and metaphysical, do you believe that art truly can be anything that one creates?
To me, art is a mode of being. It is a conscious intention. There is an art to persuasion, there is an art of living, the art of loving. I think what it takes for something to be considered art is the courage or ingenuity to call it art.
Marcel Duchamp revolutionized art by provoking the public’s imagination of what is considered art, when he submitted a porcelain urinal as a sculpture; Andy Warhol made us look at Campbell's canned soup as a form of art, a reflection of Western advertising and consumerism which has now become a global phenomenon.
Art will continue to evolve in its meaning as we as technology progresses, with the advent of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and machine learning I believe what constitutes as art will evolve accordingly.
Lastly, please share with us 3 of your local creative crushes and their IG handles that you wish to shoutout!