seraphin gallery, philadelphia art gallery, fine art, contemporary art gallery, phillip adams
"My work evolves from many different places. I use images found from Internet searches, photos of friends, places I’ve traveled, things out of my head that are fabricated and made to appear “real”. I work in series that relate to specific concepts or ideas, which consume my imagination, curiosity, and emotions. “Exousia" is a drawing from my Pleiades series. In this series, the term Pleiades relates directly to the Greek myth in the elusiveness that happens as Orion endlessly pursues the Pleiades. These drawings are developed with a world in mind where the absurd becomes familiar. The drawing “Solipsist: Wil” is from my Solipsist Series. Based on the theory of Solipsism, which states that the self is all that can be known to exist. These drawings were created using friends as the subject and exploring the definition of ones place in relation to ones self or even each other.
I am constantly looking at and responding to the world around me. In doing so, I am creating a world in which these drawings or characters will exist. In recent years I have only used charcoal on wood panels as my materials. I use charcoal because it is a medium that is immediate and fragile. I respond to its quickness and subtly. The wood panels I am able to control the surface of, as well as handle the way I use charcoal."
Phillip Adams is also an installation and mural artist. Please visit his website to view his works that are featured on buildings across the region. He has worked in Philadelphia, Trenton, Montreal, and other locations. Click here to visit Adams' website.
From When I Close My Eyes (2016)
Love at the Matterhorn, Landscapes
Phillip Adams is an artist based out of Philadelphia, PA. Adams received his BFA from the University of Georgia and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He has exhibited his work in Philadelphia at Seraphin Gallery, Arcadia University, Moore College of Art, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tiger Strikes Asteroid (founding member), and Bridgette Mayer Gallery. Adams’ work has also been included in exhibitions throughout the United States. His public art is featured both nationally and internationally, most recently Montreal, Canada
(Right) Kite Line at Dickinson College
(Left) Silent Swing at Abington Art Center
Art Bank, DC commission on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, D. C.
Lyndon House Arts Center, Athens, GA
The University of Georgia, African Studies, Athens, GA
By Zachary Yorke
If you’re looking at Phillip Adams’ work for the first time, you’ll probably want to put your nose up close to the surface. Admiring the craftsmanship, you might wonder, “he made this with charcoal?” But marveling at the photorealist dexterity risks missing what you can only see by stepping back. A vast emptiness surrounds many of the figures. Though larger than life they seem small. Though unwavering they appear vulnerable.
In the Solipsist drawings, we can see this in the tension between empty space and spaces reflected in sunglasses. The images summon a kind of severe empathy. They ask, who have you become because of where you’ve been—finding selfhood through compounded spaces.
In Jamie, we see 20 and 30-somethings in an inflatable structure, the kind seen at street fairs and children’s birthdays. This playful persona embraces absurd spaces, stubbornly, forever young. In Jeff, we can see a tranquil lake reflected, where you might go to gnaw on big questions—to look within.
If the reflections in the Solipsist drawings invite us to build a story, Matterhorn extends that narrative flirtation. Building on the sense of grandiose and absurd, the characters take the stage as they occupy this vast setting. In several pieces we see allusions to the Disneyland attraction modeled after the mountain. Fantastical rollercoaster architecture grafted into the Alpine landscape; what can we make of our impulse to mimic what already exists—superimposing decorative overlay on natures’ pokerfaced landscape.
If Solipsist characters filtered space through their Aviators, Matterhorn figures shield themselves from their craggy surrounds. But rather than a hiding place, their hoods embolden them— leveling their impervious gazes.
Broadly, these drawings belong to a conversation that began in the late 17th and early 18th centuries when, independently, three Englishmen travelled through the Swiss Alps. From their accounts, the philosophical notion of the sublime emerged—a grand aesthetic in nature, incommensurate with mere beauty. One of those Englishmen, Joseph Addison, wrote that "The Alps fill the mind with an agreeable kind of horror.”
A similar sense of horror is palpable in the writing of Edward Whymper, the mountaineer and illustrator who first climbed the Matterhorn’s summit. In “Scrambles amongst the Alps in the years 1860-69,” he grapples to find language for this new space.
For Whymper, the “purple gloom” of the iconic and deadly Matterhorn inspires sublime alienation. So what love might we find in Phillip Adams’ Matterhorn? A love born of the selfknowledge growing behind mirrored glasses? One inspired by an assembly of unvanquished Bohemian clerics? One sheltered from the glare of unnatural brightness? An otherworldly place of sublime absurdity where we are not alone.
By Michael O’Sullivan, Thursday, May 15, 2014
The best fiction, it has been said, tells the truth by lying. Writers, filmmakers, even visual artists make stuff up to get at verities that transcend their invented circumstances.
This paradox lies at the heart of “Spring Solos 2014,” the new show — or, rather, shows — on view at the Arlington Arts Center. Though unrelated thematically, conceptually or in terms of medium, the seven miniexhibitions cluster, inadvertently, around a single question: Do we want to be deceived? If the answer is yes, as it seems to be, a better question might be: Why?
The answers depend on how the question is framed.
Deception is front and center the minute you walk in the art center’s door. Along one wall of the atrium is a large trompe-l’oeil mural by Phillip Adams. Rendered in charcoal and graphite, the drawing depicts, in hyper-realist detail, the vertiginous view of a mountain range as seen from the edge of a snow-covered slope. Making it even more dizzyingly disorienting is the red plastic swing hanging from the ceiling, just in front of the mural.
Facing Adams’s immersive installation, it feels as if you might slip and fall into it. Reminding you that it’s a picture, not a portal to another world, is the room’s bright red fire alarm, which happens to be mounted smack in the middle of the drawing.
Adams, who often works as an outdoor muralist specializing in lifelike landscapes, practices a form of postmodern illusionism. His pictures fool the eye even as they call attention to their trickery. His visual punch line — that awkward, unavoidable fire alarm — both makes and unmakes the picture.
For Adams, then, the purpose of deception is visceral. His drawing is a thrill ride, cut short by a belly laugh.
Salvatore Pirrone’s aim is somewhat different. For his solo, the sculptor has cast multiples of everyday objects — dozens of cell phones, light bulbs, pencils and tennis balls — in pastel-colored concrete and plaster. Unlike Adams’s work, these are not realistic; they resemble oversize Pez candies as much as the objects they represent. Like Adams, though, Pirrone highlights his own artifice. His sculptures, although familiar in form, appear strange, even unnerving.
Several of the artists in the show betray a fascination with the uncanny.
That word — which can suggest both “weird” and “weirdly alike” — encapsulates the exhibition’s central paradox. If the art in “Spring Solos” is a mirror held up to the real world, it’s a mirror from the funhouse.
Take Benjamin Andrew. His installation in the basement presents an alternate history of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the man whose name once graced the former schoolhouse in which the AAC is located. Andrew’s art — which includes doctored photos, fake documents, machines and specimen jars — imagines Maury (1806-1873) as a time traveler who collaborated with scientists from the 23rd century. One artifact purports to be a time machine. “Powered by nostalgia,” as the label declares, it’s actually a plug-in appliance timer you can buy at Home Depot, modified with additional wires and hardware.
It seems, at first glance, that Andrew isn’t trying terribly hard to fool anyone. But maybe he’s trying too hard. Unlike Adams and Pirrone, his art comes across as less subversive than silly.
Favorites in “Spring Solos” include the work of Kyle J. Bauer and Alex Arzt. Bauer, a sculptor working mainly in ceramic and wood, creates brightly colored constructions that resemble pool toys. Inspired by nautical equipment, his enigmatic forms evoke such devices as buoys, floats and other navigational aides. But rather than guiding, they’re meant to confound and disorient. As a metaphor for being at sea — in both senses of the term — they’re quite effective.
As a photographer, Arzt would seem to be the artist most interested in recorded “truth.” Yet his contribution here is a display of surreal photograms — prints made by placing an object directly on photographic paper and exposing it to light. In this case, the objects are mushrooms that, over the course of hours or days, disintegrate and release spores or insect larvae. The resulting patterns — beautiful and unpredictable — don’t look like mushrooms, nor are they supposed to.
According to Arzt’s statement — which could well speak for most of the artists in this show — he’s less interested in making a slavish facsimile of an experience than in leaving a trace of something invisible, but no less true.
The story behind the work Elizabeth Kauffman’s contribution to “Spring Solos” includes such interactive objects as a View-Master slide viewer containing a depiction of a UFO. But the core of her work here consists of a series of six watercolor paintings, each of which contains a text fragment suggesting that the images are renderings of paranormal phenomena through history. (You can research the back stories of several of her paintings, including “November 15, 1667 in Mittelfischach, Germany” at www.thinkaboutitdocs.com, a Web site devoted to “alternative views and truths on aliens, UFOs and the hidden agendas associated with them.”) Kauffman’s titles may be presented as a matter of fact, but her paintings aren’t exactly deadpan. Full of drama, they come across as midway between credulous and skeptical. As documentary, they may be hard to believe, but as art, they’re hard to dismiss
By Edith Newhall, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/9/11
In his first one-person show at Seraphin Gallery, "Love at the Matterhorn," Phillip Adams has filled the gallery with new paintings from his "Solipsist" and "Matterhorn" series, most of which are black-and-white portraits of young men and women isolated at the bottom of the panel they're painted on, against a white background.
As in Adams' earlier "Solipsist" pictures, his solitary subjects wear glasses that reflect the scenes in front of them. The subjects of the Matterhorn paintings wear the same blue, hooded camouflage-patterned jacket.
Adams' images can stir memories of photorealism - he draws his meticulous portraits with charcoal, occasionally adding painted areas - and he titles his works after his subjects' first names, as Chuck Close did in his early portraits (and still does in his paintings). But Adams' subjects seem younger and less defined as people than Close's contemporaries did in the 1960s. The attitudinal young Richard Serra of Close's black-and-white painting Richard, 1969 looked like someone who knew where he was going; the solemn facial expressions of Adams' Keir, Corrine, and David seem blank by comparison. The reflections in the glasses worn by the "Solipsist" subjects suggest that they are passive voyeurs; the hoods on the heads of the "Matterhorn" figures exaggerate their youthfulness.
Adams is also showing paintings of mountainous landscapes with references to the Disneyland Matterhorn attraction. A table with an umbrella is improbably poised in an Alpine landscape in The Wait, while a tiny aerial tram car runs between two cliffs in Forever Young.
There's an unknowable mystery in Adams' images that he enhances by the contrasts of scale he uses, and the contrast of the drawn portrait to its white background. Now, in these landscapes, he seems to be introducing humor, too.