Oftentimes, the brutal power wielded by a fierce monarch can only find balance in the gentleness of his illustrious queen. Adam Pitt’s exhibition, Midas & Persephone, places this idea before viewers far and wide, demonstrating art’s ability to offer catharsis from the painful realities of daily life, and a remedy for the gravity of persistent anguish. The works in question arise from the artist’s two principal series: Korporate Culture and Nudes. While their juxtaposition appears quite disparate on the surface, unearthing the impetuses for their creations quickly reveals that these two series share more than just a printing process. This new culmination of Midas & Persephone speaks to the beautiful dignity of humanity that may be wounded but never fully annihilated by mistreatment within modern society.
Adam once identified himself as an ‘undercover artist’ while still embroiled within his thirty-one-year career in the corporate sector. Since the weight of his days navigating a white-collar landscape would prove physically and psychologically draining, his nights would become a rejuvenation as he channeled these heavy experiences into his art. The Korporate Culture series was thus born as a necessary catharsis from the ruthlessness he both experienced and witnessed first-hand. With 350+ prints to date, it is clear that the artist’s exploration of the modern workplace’s grim state could be inexhaustible. Beyond the realm of employment, however, is his admonishment of corruption in all its forms. Laid bare amidst the dark, biting satire of this series is the oppressed and tormented human, besieged by an unending cycle of mistreatment, and compounded by a societal acceptance of ‘business as usual’.
Recognizing these weighty truths through his work would prove nearly as taxing as experiencing them day after day, and as the series continued to grow, so too did the real-life iniquity witnessed by the artist in the peer-to-peer interactions surrounding him. No longer was there relief found in this work with its ceaseless exemplification, and Adam found himself requiring a respite from his previous refuge. His flight from the biting Man’s World of Korporate Culture would lead him down a well-trodden path within art history, culminating in the centuries-old tranquility of the figure in its most intimate form.
The Greek god of the underworld, Hades, was first driven to kidnap the young Persephone out of his need for a queen. Her natural beauty, however, usurped this scheme, and the smitten god instead took her as a proper wife. In a similar manner, the artist’s need for escape from the brutal reality of Korporate Culture propelled him into Nudes, but his sincere admiration for the human form elevates the figures found in this series beyond sensual delight. His influences, ranging from the German expressionists to Indigenous work of the Aboriginal people, collide to create portrayals of his muse akin to contemporary ‘goddesses’. There is a divine quality to Adam’s treatment of the subject, reminding viewers of humanity’s inalienable value. In some ways, the Nudes series is a triumph in the face of Korporate Culture. While the latter demonstrates the sheer brutality modern society can inflict upon the psyche, the former reestablishes the dignity of humanity and our ability to transcend even the world’s most severe scourges.
Visually, there is a striking contrast between the figure’s depiction in each series. The harsh, bold, and rigid lines illustrating a male-dominated corporate world are soothed by the warm flesh tones and gentle curves of the nude figures. Here, each subject is gentle, delicate, and uninhibited in expressing her natural beauty. There is an incredible amount of versatility on display regarding the artist’s process. His mastery over the intaglio printing process is demonstrated in his variety of form—a viewer ought not forget that the stress-inducing, boisterous male figures exhibited alongside the serene female forms are all made manifest through the same woodblock etching style. Depicting organic forms in this manner adds a new footnote to the vast amount of nudes found throughout art history, particularly in the printing world.
These nudes aren’t reclining in seduction, nor losing themselves in an afternoon haze. They radiate feminine strength through their honesty. The textured quality of their final appearances—a deliberate choice on the artist’s part to allow the woodcut’s grain to remain visible on each final print—deepens this assertion. In contrast to the rigid, brutal corporate structures that dominate the daily lives of many individuals stand these blissful reminders of humanity’s roots in the natural environment. It is a quiet truth captured by the simplicity of these forms that the birthright of the human person, obscured by modern benchmarks for achievement, lies in nature. Nudes stands as the antidote for a people poisoned by decades of bureaucratic corruption and warped societal pressures delineated across Korporate Culture.
Corruption truly carries a ‘Midas Touch’, quickly deteriorating the mental and physical well-being of those caught within any structure it touches. The sheer breadth of the Korporate Culture series speaks to this inescapability, and tasked with expressing every facet of this truth as they appear throughout society proved onerous for the artist, thus requiring a reprieve. A battered subject of the king’s tyranny sought a new muse, and finding one proved far greater than juvenile delight. The artist reminds each viewer of humanity’s innate majesty as he revels in the divine tranquility of his Persephone.