Adrian Haak, Jr.


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Year 2021
Medium Silverpoint and goldpoint on panel
Dimensions 30 x 18.5 cm

About the work

I’ve been thinking about and meditating on the notion of hope – what it is, its utility, what it does and does not do, and where to find it.

Psychologically, hope is an action rooted in clear, practical measures to bridge the current now to an anticipated then. It is distinguished from optimism in that, while both look toward a good yet to come, optimism is a passive state, lacking definition and direction, whereas hope opens the mind to find creative solutions to realize a specific, improved future.

This leaf is from a silver maple tree in Southwark Park and was one of several given to me by my (then) two-year-old son, who spontaneously collected some for me during a walk with his mother last autumn. It sits centered in the lower third of the image, amid an expanse of dark tone. Both the leaf and the tone are drawn with silver. The panel is cut to the 1:1.618 of the Golden Ratio, and the uppermost tip of the leaf echoes this, marking the next subdivision of the ratio within the picture plane. The five lobes of the leaf suggest an upward pointing pentagram, which has ancient associations with health, positivity, good fortune, and fulfilment.

The four semi-circles, drawn in gold, reference the celestial spheres used in early cosmological models of the universe. Since ancient times, the number four has been used to symbolize the physical, the concrete, what could be touched and felt, and these circles speak to the factuality of our own celestial context.

The title is taken from the silver maple’s Latin name, Acer saccharinum. As a noun, acer denotes a particular genus of trees and shrubs, but as an adjective, its meaning is nuanced, depending on its application. In a physical sense, it can mean sharp, fine, or pointed, but, when applied to states of mind and intellectual qualities, it can mean acute, penetrating, sagacious, keen, ardent, or shrewd. Another, perhaps less reliable, translation yields an interesting word: seer.

This leaf seemed a fitting totem to bear this idea of hope.

About the artist:

Born 1979 Pennsylvania, Adrian Haak Jr. lives and works in London. Graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania; and Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London.

Haak makes silverpoint drawings of found natural objects such as leaves or stones. The objects are often collected as personal markers or mementoes of a particular place or time. In addition to this personal, subjective significance, he researchs the archetypal and historical significance these items may bear. This often provides surprising insights into them, enriching and expanding their meaning. In the image, Haak frequently couples them with formal or iconic geometric elements as he reaches for a way to explore how ontological concerns may be embodied though these everyday objects.

His works are held in public and public collections in the United States, United Kingdom, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

Selected solo exhibitions include Adrian Haak – Silverpoint Drawings, Bethlehem, Philadelphia (2009); and Adrian Haak – Drawings, Lebanon Valley Council of the Arts, Lebanon, Philadelphia (2008). Selected group exhibitions include London Ultra, OXO Bargehouse, London (2018); Stables Gallery End of Year Group Show, Stables-in-Exile, London (2018); Tannery Group Show, Tannery Project Space, London (2017); Open Exhibition, More Riverside, London (2014); In Search of the Intentist, The Rag Factory, London (2011); Battle of Ideas, Royal College of Art, London (2011); 38th Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Lebanon Valley College, Annville (2009); and 31st Annual Berks Art Alliance Juried Art Exhibition, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Reading, Philadelphia (2008).

Haak's work was featured in The Power of Drawing, in PoetsandArtist Magazine Issue 59 (2014); and The Search for Intentist Art (2011).

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