Heavy Metal cover artist Adrian Cox has more eerie psychedelic scenes, currently on display at Cory Helford Gallery in a show called “Into the Spirit Garden.” Like so many public places, the gallery has closed its doors during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, although you may be able to arrange a visit — check the Corey Helford Gallery website for more information. For those of us who can’t get the gallery or aren’t leaving the house, this is all the more reason to display these incredible, detail-rich oil paintings here. Enjoy the art, and be sure to check out Adrian Cox’s website and his Instagram @adriancoxart.
“In this show, one of the central ideas that I’ve explored is the intersection of the spiritual and the social,” Cox says. “This plays out in two distinct ways in the work. On one hand, I show the power of community to help foster empathy and nurture the spirit. But on the other end of things, I’ve looked at some of the darker and more harmful ways that this can play out. The Specters, who are the antagonists in my work, harness this mix of social and spiritual power in order to further a toxic worldview. In a lot of ways, this work is much more directly political than work that I’ve made in the past.”
Of “Constructing the Pneumatic Champion,” Cox says: “In this work, the Specters are building the body of their champion. In order to do so, they’ve kidnapped one of the Border Creatures, and are using them to breathe life into their creation.”
“This painting depicts the Specters swearing an oath to conquer the Borderlands,” Cox says of “Oath of the Spectral Brotherhood.” “The two figures hiding at the bottom right of the painting are Border Creatures. The Border Creatures often wear ghost costumes in order to hide from the Specters, but usually adorn the fabric with bright colors or ornate designs.”
Cox says that “In the narrative of the show, [‘The Birth of Spirit Gardener’] painting marks end of Penitent Spirit’s search for redemption. This rainbow spirit, who was once a blue Specter, is transformed in this painting. Here, Penitent Spirit becomes Spirit Gardener, a new Border Creature. I wanted this work to convey complete and unbridled joy.”
“All of the work in Into the Spirit Garden has been incredibly demanding to make, but the intensity of the resulting paintings is so rewarding,” Cox says. “These works are filled with minute details and buried scraps of narrative. I think that this is true of all of the work, but ‘The Origin of the Specters, Part I’ really exemplifies what I’m talking about. From paintings-within-paintings, to sketchbooks filled with drawings and writing, to insect and bird life, this painting is almost too visually dense to see all at once.”
“This painting depicts the Border Creature named Painter obsessively focusing on their work,” Cox says. “The lush summer night and celebrating creatures in the background are all ignored as Painter delves deep into their search for a more pure and abstract world.”
“In this work, the Specters, who are the antagonists in my mythology, have just entered the world of the Borderlands,” Cox explains. “The glowing painting on the ground suggests that Painter’s abstract creations have somehow opened a gate that has allowed the Specters into the Borderlands.”