My work, which I considered entirely as drawings focus on 3 separate yet interrelated concepts, dismantling, gel ink and layering.  


I dismantle wholly, take apart or extract parts in which to construct my work.  This dismantling has included, a couch, a radio, an electric organ even an entire motorcycle just to name a few.  Mostly I dismantle mechanical objects and configure the object back into a 2-dimensional reality.  This I relate as the opposite process to creating a blueprint.  First a 2-dimensional drawing (blueprint) is created than the 3-dimensional reality comes into being.  I work reversely.

The most common dismantled object is the dictionary, precisely the 1979 Unabridged Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary.  I "breakdown" the dictionary into its individual components, in descending order, the defined word, the definition, the individual words of the definition and/or the individual letters of the words of the definition.  I will use these components to engineer a new work.  This re-engineering consists of a formula, mostly if-then statements, as if this circumstance occurs then I proceed in this manner.  Many of these formulas are base in a numerical transposition scenario for each letter, mainly A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4 etc.  This is how the work is constructed and the dictionary is reassembled into a new 2-dimensional form.  These component parts are then traced directly on the surface of the drawing, placement determined by formula.  The total number of tracings = the works title, except the dictionary pieces, their title is determined by the next defined word in the dictionary following the completion of the just finished work.

A more recent development includes the addition of a 3-dimensional component being directly attached to the drawing.

Gel ink

All the work is comprised of gel ink pens.  While primarily on paper, canvas and linen have been used.  These are consistent, while the addition of the 3-dimensional component addition depends on the original concept for the drawing.  Gel ink is a water-soluble material which when fully dried, dry to the touch mere seconds, fully after several months is water-resistant and light fast.  Some works, especially those that include an acrylic paint background are fully water-proof and light fast.  Those works not containing acrylic are sealed with Polyacrylic sealant and become resistant to many scuffs and smears, and can be removed with a white rubber eraser.


Each work uses the idea of a slow, meticulous method of creation.  The layering of individual components, whether words or objects, builds up the surface creating a more dense surface with each successive layer.  Seemingly opaque color fields are produced by multiple layers of handwritten definitions, as many 18 layers.  While object component pieces are a more varied layering as with cascade nail drawings since the tracing of the component is accomplished wherein the nail ultimately come to rest.  

The layering creates a great sense of density within the work.  With gel ink the layer mesh together to create a new visual of multiple colors into a single.   Many viewers have commented on the 3-dimensional characteristics of the work all achieved through layering.

Mycose, 2017.

John Adelman