In the Studio with Adam Farah-Saad

Words by

James Ambrose

In the Studio with Adam Farah-Saad

What was your childhood like in relation to art? Did it play a big role, and what was your exposure to the art world?

Maybe a clue to my future would be how often I was accused by adults around me of being ‘too sensitive’ when I was a child. It was a traumatic and depressing childhood so naturally I escaped into fantasy. I recently remembered how I would build dream homes with dominos and connect 4 pieces and imagine a perfect family in them. It was the 90’s so one of those perfect families was the Beckhams. So I’ve been making art with found objects since I was a child! When I was in sixth form college my mum died and I felt very alone and experienced a sense of extreme solitude. My only way to deal with my emotions was to journal, draw and make music. With not much guidance I made a whim decision to do an Art & Design Foundation. There I would be tutored by the amazing artist Ima-Abasi Okon who encouraged my pretty random creative output and after that I decided to do a BA Drawing at Camberwell.

Adam Farah-Saad - Public Gallery, Frieze London 2023, Courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

How did you come to utilise and experiment with so many different forms of media? You initially studied drawing, is that correct?

The drawing course at Camberwell was surprisingly the least inhibited in terms of medium. We were all doing anything and everything, whilst conceptually expanding on the scope of what defined drawing. After I left art school I found that the more traditional mediums were actually more expensive to experiment with. So my art has been a natural progression of using what was available to me to express what I wanted to. My palette is basically a carboot sale. Over the years I’ve been able to develop and hone my own artistic language from this.

How do you feel the video works you are so well known for inform the other mediums in your practice, are these often the starting point for a presentation?

My video work came out of my walking practice. I’m a flaneur and psycho-geographer at heart and like to capture what I call ‘momentations’ from my experience of the city. I first showed these in my exhibition ‘PRAISE N PAY IT / PULL UP, COME INTO THE RISE’ at South London Gallery, as they were directly influencing my works within other mediums…

Adam Farah-Saad - Public Gallery, Frieze London 2023, Courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

Your upcoming solo booth at Frieze London with Public Gallery sounds like a very interesting, absorbing and bold production, fused with elements of nostalgia. Can you talk a little about its concept and how it has been put together?

Aesthetically speaking, it is a kind of snapshot of different moments within my practice over the last 10 years of its development, including installation, sculpture, photography, sound and smell. It is referencing places which are personally pertinent to me throughout my 32 years of growing up in London. From Wood Green Shopping Centre to Staples Corner and Brent Cross. I’m then using the works to reflect on things I’ve experienced within those places, from death to sex to friendship and addiction and healing.

Did you feel it was important to use a number of different media in this presentation and overall show a distinctly different proposition to a standard "fair booth"?

I haven’t really cared to let the unique context of the fair deter me from showing the kind of work I would show in any other context, or change how I show it. I often create my own spaces wherever me and my art go, and the medium is dictated by what has influenced me. I like to use my art to pay homage to those things rather than focus on creating or dictating a specific narrative. So it's natural that I pull all sorts of materials from the places which have directly inspired the art and then let my interventions feel natural, bringing out the poetry that I see existing around me. Last year I visited the fair and was mostly excited by the Thomas Dane booth, probably because it was curated by an artist, Anthea Hamilton. It felt much less inhibited than a lot of the rest.

Adam Farah-Saad - Public Gallery, Frieze London 2023, Courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

What do you hope that viewers of the fair take away from your presentation?

That art can be fun and sincere and serious and horny all at the same time. Also that maybe you can just try and feel into the artwork rather than expecting to be dictated to.

What do you think makes a work of art successful?

I have no clue / it’s complicated.

After Frieze London, what are your plans for the next year?

Get back into my gym routine.

What is it about being an artist that you love?

Waking up at 10am.

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Photography by Martin Mayorga