No doubt (aside from psychological preference) my ease in placing dissimilar and unlikely visual elements together on a canvas comes from seeing there in the interstices of nature’s forms man’s invented forms, man’s invented spheres, squares, pyramids stacked to the sky, fronting infinity. –Pat Adams, Stockton Record February 3, 1986
Alexandre is pleased to present Pat Adams: Work from the 1970s and 80s, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by the 93-year-old American artist at the gallery’s 291 Grand Street space. This exhibition focuses on a selection of work made during Adams’s time as a professor at Bennington College (1964–1993), a rich period of creation during which she held numerous teaching appointments and residencies across the country. The show will be on view from March 5th to April 16th, and is accompanied by a catalogue with new scholarship by Faye Hirsch.
In her paintings, Pat Adams creates what critic Hilton Kramer described as “the most delicate, painstaking, exquisite images” which reflect upon the sum of everything. Working with a core of geometric forms, or “ur forms,” including circles, curves, lines, squares, and various spherical variations, Adams’s work gradually exposes a deliberate poetic language. This language is also revealed in her titles, writings, and talks, describing the qualities she strives to achieve in her work: “quidity or whatness, richesse, towardness, involuntary affect, slowing, apparency, delayed closure, autogenous bursts.”
Gathering from a multitude of philosophical, scientific, and historical sources, Adams explores the glories of excess and the intricacies of restraint, demonstrated in lavish surfaces (often mixing sand, beads, shell, or mica into pigments to enhance their material vibrancy) alongside carefully orchestrated lines and a distinctive vocabulary of shape. Her meticulously calculated approach to the construction of form brings together seemingly unrelated visual elements to create a harmonious whole. Although her paintings have an immediate impact on the viewer, their greatest strength lies in their power to draw in viewers and keep them visually, mentally, and emotionally engaged over long periods of looking, thinking, and feeling.
A wealth of literature by critics such as Dore Ashton, Barbara Rose, Max Kozloff and Jed Perl has been written about the multitude of solo-shows and group exhibitions that have featured Adams’s work. For most of her career, Adams enjoyed regular biennial exhibitions at Virginia Zabriskie Gallery, her longtime dealer. Her work is in the collections of major public institutions across the country. Adams lives and works in Bennington, Vermont.