Anyone who has picked up a Boise Weekly in the past few years has seen Adam Rosenlund's work. As BW's staff graphic designer, his illustrations accompanied articles on everything from politics to picnic food. As is often the case with illustration work, the creations were Rosenlund's based on ideas from someone else--sometimes with little more than a synopsis, he would create a visual representation of a story. For De-Resolution, an exhibition of new work opening First Thursday at Bricolage, Rosenlund again works with both internal and external forces, but this time, in a completely different way.
The 29-year-old Rosenlund is, in his own words, a "prolific" artist. When he and Bricolage owner Chelsea Snow started talking in late 2012 about putting on a show, Rosenlund could have easily pulled enough existing work to cover every wall--and possibly every shelf--in the place. He didn't want the exhibition to be some kind of career retrospective, though. Rosenlund wanted not only to show new work but to have a concept. He wanted the work to "be it's own thing," and he wanted to challenge himself--which he did in more ways than one.
If practice makes perfect, Rosenlund is well on his way. Along with working a full-time job, he always has a slew of freelance work on his plate, as well as several of his own projects--he just wrapped up designing an album cover for the band
Busy Misery Signals and is working on a project for Dark Horse Comics with his longtime collaborator Ethan Ede. The idea of showing something different from his commercial design or "comic book stuff" meant Rosenlund would have to step out of his comfort zone.
"It's fine art-ish," he said. "It still has an illustrative bent because I can never get too far away from that. But it's new, as far as what people expect out of me."
As familiar with designing on a computer as a pilot is with the controls of an airplane, Rosenlund pushed himself even further by using gouache, ink and acrylic on cold-pressed illustration board. He has a total of seven 30-inch works for the show, all of which are on a theme.
In a broad sense, De-Resolution is Rosenlund's take on how people share every aspect of their lives with everyone around them--from the closest family member to complete strangers. Using social media, cellphones and other forms of technology, people expose their innermost thoughts and truest selves to any and all with Internet access. The operative word, however, is "appear."
"They don't really reveal anything about themselves, though," Rosenlund said. "It's all this surface-level artifice. We create these online public personas that obscure the reality about ourselves. It's like the stuff that you reveal through actual conversations with actual people ... all that stuff gets lost."
In De-Resolution, that conceptual dichotomy comes to life in soft and hard lines. Sharp angles that look like the edges of broken glass half obscure the warm tones of a face that is at once realistic and stylized--Rosenlund said the images are amalgamations of live studies and what's in his head, a combination of "observational and made-up." In one of the pieces, only half of a face is visible and though it is nearly expressionless, there is something akin to fear emanating from the eye.
Rosenlund is quite the opposite of the people depicted in his upcoming show. He's an extremely well-read, well-educated guy who enjoys having a meaningful discussion and can speak at length on just about any topic. But he isn't keen on small talk. And he isn't one to brag.
Bricolage owner Chelsea Snow said she asked Rosenlund to do a show because she thinks "he's one of the most talented artists in this town." She was shocked to learn he hadn't had a solo exhibition in Boise before and is "honored" that De-Resolution at Bricolage will be his first.
"He has never had a proper gallery show," Snow said. "He was kind of waiting for someone to invite him," adding that this won't be a one-time-only thing. She has asked him to do a site-specific installation at Bricolage and plans to include him in a number of upcoming group exhibits.
On his websites, adamjrosenlund.com and floodworks.net, it's clear why Rosenlund is such a busy designer. His pages are a riot of smart, bold designs. But not one to shy away from the unknown, Rosenlund welcomed the opportunity to reach beyond his milieu and prove to himself he could do it.
"I'm comfortable being uncomfortable," he said. "I have an entire room in my house filled with unfinished work and unfulfilled promises to myself. This has given me the kick in the pants to put it out there and see what the reception is. I'll gauge it from there and see where I want to go. But just making the work scratched an itch I didn't know I had, like a 'phantom limb' feeling."