The human face is the subject matter of Shelley Adler's paintings. In many of her paintings, a single figure is set against a blank background. By removing any sense of narrative, Adler provides only the mutual gaze between subject and viewer, effectively isolating the psychological component of this interaction. In paintings where the subject turns away from the viewer, an inward reality is still apparent. Adler uses a palette of pinks, blues, and oranges, creating a feeling that is subdued while at the same time unsettling. The process of painting is felt in the active brushwork and layered texture on the canvas.
Adler focuses often on gender identity through representation of young men and women. Adler emphasizes the “female-gaze,” investigating the physical transformation from adolescence to adulthood as well as the psychological transition from childhood innocence to adolescent awareness.
Shelley Adler has exhibited throughout Canada. She has had solo shows at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto (2006, 2009), Andrea Meislin (2008) and has participated in group exhibitions in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, including Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, London (2008). Adler received her MFA from Boston University in 1987. She graduated from York University in Toronto in 1983 and attended Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland in 1982. In the fall of 2007, Canadian Art Magazine published a feature article on her work, written by Gillian Mackay.(2008).