By SAMANTHA PARKER, August 2020
What do you get when you cross a businessman with an artist? A litany of ideas and concepts procured from late night inspiration in the space between sleep and waking.
Scott Abrams accesses phrases from his subconscious and writes them down on Post-it Notes, then spends time in his studio creating a visual representation of his thoughts. His art is both minimalist and conceptual. If conceptual art does anything it should make you realize what is possible, it is a root for the underdog, a place for your ideas to come to life, a conjuring of the complex.
Abrams’ work clears our entanglement with the world of words. There is not a place we don't face a litany of words and ideas on our computers, on our phones, on our drives, in our homes. He clears the space with a chosen few to make you think about where you are and what we are doing: is it the right place, the wrong place, a critical moment, a political moment? The space and time continuum, our imagination, sense of play, and inspiration all meet on his canvas.
In his opinion, an artist is one of the fields that uses every aspect of a person's life. His background in literature is a strong reference point. He sees the importance of conceptual art as building a bridge between literature and fine art. In his youth, he had plans to become a writer that led to law school, becoming a teacher and several successful business ventures. With a known ability to bring his projects to life, he took steps towards realizing his dream of being a writer but the words ended up on canvases. He rented a studio in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, FL, and gave himself 6 months to create a body of work and 30 years to realize the full life and journey of himself as an artist.
Abrams: I did take a summer in my twenties to teach myself to paint, but my thing is words, so I never thought that I would become a painter. But when I saw conceptual art, it is kind of an intertwined genre between writing and painting.
An avid reader, he studied literature in college and has consumed great reads from all over the world. He finds this background a good foundation for anyone who wants to be creative; there are so many points of reference to choose from. One of his primary goals he learned from literature and that is the dramatization of conflict. As an artist, he considers it his job to dramatize the conflict and bring it to the surface, whether it be with a novel or on a canvas.
Abrams: One of the primary goals I learned from literature is how literature dramatizes conflict. That's what artists are trying to do. We're trying to dramatise conflict. And whether I do it in a novel or I do it on a canvas, my job is to dramatise the conflict and bring it to the surface.
Inspired by artists Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, and Christopher Wool, Abrams’ take on the conceptual art construct allows for genre bending. Conceptual art does create a safe space to repurpose ideas and materials. His work makes light of the fact we're inundated by signage, words everywhere in different sizes, different languages, in paragraphs, or as single words. He wishes to create a texture with language that is inherent to its purpose, similar to what the layering of paint and color adds to a canvas.
Abrams: That's what making art is. It's the juxtaposition, it's the collision, and then, if you can get the words right, you create almost a symphony. If you're gonna work with words and images they all have to be adding something.
The originality of his work that uses words but does not remind you of graffiti is based on his own unique perspective on the texture of language. In recognizing our daily relationship with words and phrases he calls on the philosophy of one of his favorite writers.
Abrams: David Foster Wallace talked about fish and how they don't know they're in water. And I think that's how we find ourselves with language. We're just so immersed in it, but we don't actually hear a lot of the things that we're saying and that are going on around us. You know especially when people are constantly grabbing cliches like monkey bars to try and move around. And they don't really know what those cliches are saying sometimes. So I'm trying to highlight that in some ways with the texture of language.
Abrams uses his developed business acumen to inform his perspective and uncomplicate the relation between his work and his audience. It seeks to be universal, everyone should “get it” but most of all everyone should laugh. It's not often you go to a gallery show and find the audience in laughter. The images and phrases he chooses are treated with a sense of whimsy and joy. If he shows his 16-year-old daughter, who is also an artist, one of his pieces and garners a chuckle, he knows he is on the right path.
The minimalist composition of stenciled words and oil-painted small objects suggests the approachability of child's play but the message is sophisticated. The piece Smoke and Mirrors touches on the alchemy and deception of a search engine that utilizes bots to determine your habits and SEO to lead you where it wants you to go. Or the piece Dino brings to light the fact we can send emails to reach each other in seconds but we still use fossil fuels for our vehicles.
Abrams doesn't consider it a risk to follow the path of an artist. He agrees we all have creativity and imagination but is certain to be an artist takes courage. The courage to figure out your voice, your point of view and diversify it enough for everyone to engage in your perspective. In that way, his body of work is building into a uniting force.
Abrams: I'm an artist, you know. I'm trying to communicate feelings about what it's like to be on the planet now, And I'm doing that with words and with colors. So, you know, I feel great about it, I feel good.
For more, follow him on Instagram: @scottabramsart. WM
Samantha Parker is a freelance writer living in Pasadena, CA.view all articles from this author