On view through October 30, downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery proudly unveils a new solo show from figurative painter Adrian Cox, entitled Dream Country. The studio practice for the Los Angeles-based artist and compelling storyteller involves crafting an intricate and epic mythology with his paintings, in which he explores themes of otherness and monstrosity. In creating his work, he draws inspiration from art history, science fiction, mythic archetypes, and his own experience of growing up in a closeted queer family.

I make my paintings with a painstaking attention to craft, and the color in these is incredibly intense in person. This is largely because I create the color in my works by painting thin layers of transparent paint on top of each other, so the end effect gives the color a beautiful depth and richness. Ultimately, I'm mixing classical painting techniques with contemporary color sensibilities and materials.”

My paintings chronicle the lives of the Border Creatures, a group of hybrid beings that live in the verdant wilderness of the Borderlands. This personal mythology draws on a myriad of references and blends elements of art history, science fiction, mythic archetypes, and my own experience of growing up in a closeted queer family. These works challenge how we define the Monstrous and the Other, and propose a reconsideration of the categories of the natural and the transgressive. These overarching themes are grounded in the lives of my recurring characters and play out in the actions of those that wander the Borderlands.

The Border Creatures exist in symbiotic harmony with the natural world, but are antagonized by the Specters, spirits of pure energy that casually burn the landscape that they walk upon. When these spirits first appeared, the destruction that they brought to the ecosystem of the Borderlands drove the creatures into hiding. The Border Creatures eventually triumphed when Healer, the leader of the creatures, transformed many of the Specters into rainbow-hued Spectral Witnesses. These witnesses now wander the Borderlands, seeking a path to redemption.

Defeated but not broken, the remaining Specters united to form the Spectral Brotherhood. Together, they created a mantle of power, a hollow body built from their half-remembered existence as humans. The Specter that they chose to wear this body became a champion, a figurehead that could lead the Brotherhood in its violent rituals.

In Dream Country, these rituals come to a head, and the Brotherhood crowns their champion as king. By ceremonially scarring the trunks of trees, the Specters use the forests of the Borderlands to create an archive of apocalyptic prophecies and angry rantings. They transform the landscape into a reflection of their collective will, heedless of any harm done in the process. Under their new king's direction, these desecrated forests are harvested and burned in a climactic ritual intended to reshape reality. However, the Spectral Brotherhood is met with resistance, and the Border Creatures use their own rituals to cultivate and heal the Borderlands.

In this exhibition, I depict ritual and myth as the means by which reality is created. Through codified ceremonies, the characters in my work externalize their internal world views and transform the Borderlands in the process. The resulting narrative is one that recognizes the double-edged nature of myth and examines the role of ritual in shaping a shared understanding of the world.” —Adrian Cox