“What I am trying to do is tell a story. My work often tries to access situations and circumstance by way of the material itself. A rewriting of a biological imperative and history.”
Adams is compelled by stories, the stranger and more mysterious the better. Biological anomalies, destinies written by DNA, the factual and the fictitious, all knitted together in a sensitive and sophisticated aesthetic.
Adams has “discovered” creatures, circumstances and legends that he draws from historical, geographical and biological research. His love of these oddities likens him to an explorer, a rogue discoverer of rare information that is available to everyone, but sought by few.
His work stems from this detailed inventory of stories, linked to each other by a sense of a utopian/dystopian binary. To look at a work in its final form, there is little indication of the intense narrative and conflict it symbolizes. Adams creates pristine and immaculate icons that evolve from a voracious study of the abnormal and the unfortunate. He calls this process “a baroque distillation”, a method that both concentrates the essence of his stories and their particularities, and pays homage to their dramatic and indulgent elements.
The stripping away of a narrative into a singular and signifying entity is a daring and sometimes contradictory action. The meaning and value that lies in the story may be lost to the viewer, though the art object may be attractive and compelling. This attraction and mysterious concealment creates a conflicted response. One is drawn to Adam’s work because of its cleanly constructed and authentic form, and distanced by the hidden significance of the clearly symbolic objects. He enjoys and encourages this push-pull dynamic. It mirrors his own relationship to his narrative subjects.
Adams speaks of his works as signposts - indicators of the tragic, the obscure and the fatal that lie beneath the surface of saturated perfection. This twisted relationship suggests the essential faults and oddities present in life are accentuated and heightened as flawlessness is sought. Searching for this extreme might manifest in excessive breeding of a species for their unique quality with aberrant side effects, or the hunting to extinction of an elusive animal for its legendary features. In each case, there is an obsession with the control of beauty that has captivated humans for centuries. Adams expresses this dynamic through his own obsession with the unnatural, dystopic entities and stories that arise in these circumstances.
This notion of significant objects is seen clearly in Sins of the Father’s. This minimal, cleanly executed work indicates the binaries of perfection and fault, without giving away its tragic narrative. The focus of this work is a cloudlike shape of Karakul fur, a material that is harvested from lamb fetuses. Though there is no surrounding text or information, the vivid tangibility of the material and its ethereal presentation give a sense of the weight and moral implication held in this article.
There is always an immaculate finish and essential truth-to-materials present in Adam’s work. He will not settle for a merely convincing representation of the object he is memorializing. In his creative process, he sources the genuine article from his chosen narrative, adding another layer to the investigative method he has wholeheartedly adopted. This enhances the importance and authenticity of the work, and conveys the message of the truth in the legendary. The acquirement of these objects, animals or materials, often comes at the cost of the article’s life, or involves accessing industries that are usually avoided for their unsavory nature. Adams speaks of sourcing these materials as both thrilling and traumatic – it is as if he must go through a ritual of a compelling and upsetting nature to incite this reaction from his audience.
This need for the genuine object indicates another aspect of Adam’s process, the creation of the relic. His works indicate the idea of fragments, precious pieces of a sacred entity that are venerated and memorialized. This relic-like quality places them in a fine balance, between the mysterious and legendary, and the brutally real.
Deep Roller has an air of the divine, the untouchable. Tumbler pigeons, frozen mid-fall, are placed sequence-like above one another. Their stagnant poses indicate the falling stages of a bird bred to tumble in this way, with the ultimate consequence of fatality. The immaculate beauty of the birds, their mysterious origin, and the undeniable truth of their authenticity all contribute to the aura of a relic they exude.
Adam's latest work is currently on the Impossible Monsters show at David Brodie's new gallery Art Extra. For more information go to http://www.artextra.co.za/
Written by: Nina Barnett