Adrian + Shane are two Irish artists who have been working as one since 1997. They have had their work displayed from their hometown of Drogheda in County Louth, to the better-known viewing spots of London, New York and Sydney. Their pop-art style has received attention from Dublin to New York and from London to Sydney. While their work deals with a range of topics, from gay marriage and religion to pop culture, they regularly showcase their material on the Dublin gay scene. I caught up with the cute couple to find out the story behind the stencils.
Individually, did you have a background in art in the family? Or maybe at school/college?
Adrian: According to my mother, my granddad used to sketch a lot. I think that’s where I get it from. Unfortunately, none of his work was kept after he died. I never did my homework in primary school, so I wasn’t allowed to do art. On Fridays, when all the other kids got to do art, I had to sit in the corner and do the homework I hadn’t done during the week.
Shane: My Dad was always sketching and made some sculptures from wood and making furniture. So it had an influence, I’m sure, on my sister who works in film as a production designer, and me in art and design; I also went to the Glasgow School of Art to study architecture.
When did you first meet?
A: We grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. We knew each other’s faces, but never properly met until we were introduced by mutual friends on a dance floor at Christmas 1997.
What are the differences in style between the two of you, and how do you compromise?
A: We’ve had over twelve years to learn how to compromise. It’s not really a problem.
S: We have the same taste in art and graphics but different ways in expressing ourselves, I’m more graphic and Adrian can be more about a subject or images but its that combination that makes an Adrian + Shane piece.
What was the first exhibition you put on?
A: Our first exhibition was titled ‘Sensation By Deprivation’. It ran for a month during the summer of 1999 at the Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, County Louth.
S: … The art had nothing to do with the title! We had so much in the show; maybe about 50 pieces from sculpture and paintings and projection, and we still didn’t think we had enough! We actually had enough for two shows.
A: Our style changes constantly, because we like to work with different mediums. Our early work was very rough, mostly made up of collage and acrylics on paper. In recent years, however, we’ve become more known for our brightly coloured stencil work on canvas. We have also used photography and video in our more recent work.
S: We have experimented with different mediums, different techniques, ranging from projections, stencil art, painting, photography to prints on cushions that were exhibited in shop windows, anything that interests us.
Have you gained international attention at all?
A: Yes – our work has been bought by art collectors in New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney to name a few. And we recently heard that one of our artworks is hanging in a posh bar in Ibiza! We also just did an interview with a fashion/art magazine from South Korea. [As well as the fabulous Polari! – Scott]
A: No. We love each other. Enjoy each other’s company. And we know when to give each other space.
S: No, I like it…
Do you think there’s a particular style of Irish modern art, or are Irish artists just part of a British/European/World movement?
A: No. Not that I’m aware of. I don’t think there is. I don’t think our art has much to do with Ireland. We’re inspired by films, music and other artists.
S: I think Irish art can be very serious and issue based, which isn’t a bad thing… We are very serious about the art that we make, although our pieces aren’t always serious.
A: We’re hoping to exhibit around Ireland before the year is out. Two exhibitions in Dublin for 2011 have just been confirmed, but we’re not releasing anymore details till we get closer to the time. It’d be great to exhibit outside Ireland next year too, possibly London or New York. We’ll see what happens.
S: Yeah, we have shows for next year and a few things that we are planning that are happening soon but haven’t been finalised… so watch this space … well www.adrianandshane.com for details.