BWA Warszawa
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Adam Adach
Ewa Gorządek "The mirror perspective"

Can we still expect a painted image to retain it’s innocence while we are submerged or, even, overflowing with visual culture? Will this image be a pure vision conceived on canvas? Rather not. Our consciousness retains the underlying thought that the image is always image of another image. This fact determines what artists may do, tempting them to use the situation, although without completely surrendering to it. Therefore, artists increasingly eagerly recycle images which are constantly being produced by the mass media, advertising and the Internet, along with those which have been captured by the camera and video camera. This method of recycling gives us a peculiar ecology of the image, based on a stance which favours the utilisation of the available store of imaginery.

Adam Adach most often paints his images on the basis of a found image, derived either from history or auto biography and selected from the world occurring before out eyes in the frame of the camera lens. His painting cannot be dubbed critical in that it does not provoke a social debate. His painting is more reflective, as if the artist is turning inwards into himself, as a way of finding a new, fresh relationship with the world. It is also a dialogue, sometimes even a dispute, with the reality that the painter has encountered. Adach does not assume the stance of a critic as much as that of a libertarian who might repeat Samuel L. Jackson’s phrase from Pulp Fiction: allow me to retort. In this way, Adach subsequently refashions and distorts the material which initially inspired him, depriving it of it’s original unequivocalness and enriching it with a developed context instead. Sometimes, this even becomes a game with various images, which being juxtaposed, form a much ampler utterance, as in his polyptych Prediction.

Adach often joins autobiographical elements to the wider sphere of culture and history, which makes his painting readable on various levels and enriches it with encoded meanings. The deciphering of these meanings is only possible with the artist’s own commentary. It is slightly reminiscent of hypertext with it’s non-linear narration and undefined structure, thus permitting a careful and inquisitive receiver to enjoy the satisfaction of the unexpected discovery of relations and “links”. Thanks to this, Adach’s paintings seem to be very active in many dimensions.

The title of Adam Adach’s exhibition is Portraits. Mirrors. This title encapsulates the reflection of the potential character of each gaze and message, suggesting also the impossibility of an unequivocal reception. The portraits in the first room of the exhibition are reflected in a mirrored wall which, due to it being slightly bent, does not offer a Renaissance-like perspective but a minutely shifted view. This minute shift is very significant for Adach’s painting – it is like gazing into a mirror which is not positioned ideally vis-à-vis the viewer, thus introducing optical confusion. Similarly, Adach’s paintings are reflections of “images”, filtered through the artist’s subjective vision; “vision” being understood here in the wider sense of communication with the world. The shift of optics, whether mechanical or mental, always offers the opportunity to embrace the multivocal traits of an observed object or phenomenon with one’s gaze. Moreover, it permits one to discover unexpected similarities, like the one between the alienated monumentality of the government edifices: The Ministry of Communication, The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Health and the over whelming gate to a warehouse, The Gate. The monumental edifices of the ministries are given “a human air” at Adach’s exhibition thanks to the series of portraits of persons more or less close to the artist himself, as if he wanted to create a counterbalance to the inaccessible architecture. The names of the ministries indicate first and foremost a concentration on human relations, although these buildings in Adach’s paintings look rather like stronghold existing for their own sake.

The viewer, when he wants to pass to subsequent rooms, must walk past the image featuring an industrial paper shredder, Industrial Destruction of Documents, thus – the image of papers, documents, files and other traces of history. The huge, black throat of the shredder reminds the viewer of purgatory. Limbo, or perhaps, the open source Internet portal system of the same name, which is like a boundless, almost eternal archive of data.

In subsequent rooms there are sets of works which form painterly commentaries or narrative canvas, by which the artist makes reference to such rudimentary issues as the human being, God, history and politics. With a slightly ironical distance, Adach approaches the recent attempt of some of our pseudo-politicians to undermine the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. One of the paintings: 176 years old, features the head of 176-year old female tortoise, allegedly brought from Galapagos Islands by Darwin himself, which has recently died in an Australian Zoo. The other painting (DNA) show a sculpture form of a DNA helix sitting in the yard of a former Calmaldoli friars monastery in Warsaw district of Bielany. The adjacent room accommodates a video with shots from the lives of chimpanzees in a Zoo, entitled The Primates Are Not Apes. This statement seems even more intriguing, considering the fact that scientific research has proved that the genetic difference between a human and a chimpanzee is only 0,6 per cent, while the difference between the chimpanzee and the orangutan is as much as 2 per cent.

The registered images, which Adach translates into the language of painting, lose on the way their acquired elusiveness and temporariness as filtered through photography or press reproduction; instead, they gain explicitness and a higher status. Perhaps, this is the significant sense and value of the creation of these works. In this way then, they might be said to belong to a certain form of critical art, understood as engagement in current debates on power, The Cabinet, the settlement of accounts with the recent past, Assembly Hall, or threats from ultra-rightist nostalgia, Wolf and Cheap History.

Adach’s intellectually dense work is a coherent and sophisticated artistic message. The images built upon the clash of two media – photography and painting, benefit from both the former and the latter. The intriguing elusiveness and seemingly coincidental character of the photographic frame is joined to colour in Adach’s canvases and the artist bestows this colour with a clearly defined, material quality. The inner space of his paintings, built from subtle hues of colours and light, gains both a glassy depth and opaque closeness. The pleasure of contact with Adach’s art comes from the satisfaction which one gets from finding the Barthesian punctum in his paintings, married to his rarely encountered painterly sensitivity.

Text from the catalogue of the exhibition Adam Adach "Portraits and Mirrors" CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw 2007.