November 1st, 2023
New Gallery MAR artist Adam Rees knows how to catch your attention and keep it with his polymer clay sculptures. The vibrant colors, intriguing textures, and impressive animal forms of his sculptures are eye-catching from afar, but upon closer inspection, these sculptures are even more awe-inspiring than you might imagine. Each wild Western animal sculpture is composed of hundreds of handmade polymer canes*, intricately crafted into landscape, animal, and abstract designs. The result is a stunning tapestry of color, design, and hidden meaning, masterfully crafted into your favorite Western wildlife.
Rees’s fascination with polymer clay began after an enlightening encounter with a friend who introduced him to polymer canes* when he was 18, a flexible and versatile medium that set him on a path toward exploring the limitless possibilities of clay as a medium. Rees vividly remembers this moment of discovery: “My friend rolled three “snakes” [of clay] together and squished them together. Then he took a razor and cut them, and because they’re long individual things, the pattern repeats on every cut. It just kind of blew my mind. It’s this very simple idea, yet it can achieve just such an amazing impact.” Now Rees works continuously on his mastery of more complex canes, which now make up his complex and captivating sculptures.
* Polymer canes are patterns formed by layering and shaping individual strands of clay into intricate designs, using a process called millefiori
Rees’s creations are renowned for their concealed images, intricate patterns, and mesmerizing designs. He meticulously selects imagery for each piece, often drawing inspiration from his surroundings, emotions, or his fascination with Western animals and landscapes. Animals have always held a special place in Rees’s heart, and his fascination with the natural world, combined with the challenge of working with polymer clay, led him to sculpt various Western animals. The allure of working with animals lies in the transformation of lifeless clay into lifelike beings, infusing each creation with character and vitality.
His creative process involves not only sculpting the original animal forms, but also adorning his pieces with an array of intricately handmade canes and designs. Rees states, “I usually try to make a new couple of really complex canes that speak to that piece, so I’m always making new canes for the pieces, but I also am pulling out maybe a few slices of an older one as well. That’s probably my favorite part of it, though, just deciding which canes to use and how to make up the design.”
As enjoyable as Rees finds it all, working with polymer clay is not without its challenges. Each piece represents a labor-intensive, time-consuming endeavor, with little room for error due to the nature of the material. Yet, Rees’s readiness to experiment, even if it entails the risk of ruining a piece, testifies to his artistic bravery. When Rees is designing the cane layout for his sculptures, he uses his intuition as guide: “it’s kind of a feeling I get from each piece,” he explains, “a total discovery of trial and error. After I’ve finished a particular piece or created a complex cane, I can’t always replicate it quite the same way again. You just can’t always repeat the magic as easily.” That magic is part of what makes Rees’ sculptures so unique – each one is entirely one-of-a-kind and not replicable – even by the artist himself.
We’re proud to now represent the stunning sculptural work of Adam Rees here at Gallery MAR. We’ve been fans of Adam Rees’ sculptural work for some time, and we’re delighted to know that the admiration is mutual: Rees says, “I’ve known about Gallery MAR for years as being one of the top galleries out there. I was exuberant to hear that they wanted to work with me. It’s just stunning.”
As an artist living along the Wasatch Front, Rees is thrilled to have representation for his work here in Park City, Utah. The Western landscape, particularly the captivating terrain of Utah, significantly influences Rees’s artistic direction. The dramatic mountains, enchanting sunsets, and the rich variety of flora and fauna in the West have consistently inspired his creations, forging a unique connection between nature and his artistic imagination.
As Rees looks to the future, he’s excited about exploring this new connection with Gallery MAR and with exploring a little more mixed media. He’s currently working on a stunning moose sculpture for Gallery MAR that combines both metal and clay. This fusion of materials marks a new direction in his work. Within his studio, creativity and experimentation thrive, where artistic boundaries are pushed and limitless expression reigns. Each creation tells a unique story, and Rees’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of art.
Here at Gallery MAR, we are honored to provide a glimpse into the creative world of Adam Rees. Whether it’s hidden imagery, complex canes, or ventures into metalwork, Rees’s artistic vision knows no boundaries. Stay apprised of Rees’s captivating creations as he pushes the frontiers of what can be achieved with polymer clay here at Gallery MAR.