“The Lay of the Land” – Harry Adams (Great Britain)
October 24, 2013 - November 23, 2013
Harry Adams is the name of the artistic partnership between Steven Lowe and Adam Wood. Although the two artists have collaborated together closely since meeting at art school in 1988, where they studied painting, they only chose the presentational construct of Harry Adams in 2008. Despite their training as painters, their early collaborative projects were loud musical ones, since when they have engaged in many diverse activities including painting, drawing, film, performance, printmaking, photography, digital montage and poster design (especially the Art Hate project, in collaboration with Billy Childish), artists’ books, publishing (poetry, novels, polemics), web projects, running galleries and curating. Their most notable musical project was STOT21stCplanB, whose accompanying videos and other related artworks reveal a strong visual sensibility. It is a long, hardworking partnership.
In recent years, the focus of their activity has been the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop. This is a gallery and workshop premises set up by Steven Lowe, that provides a vehicle not only for Harry Adams but also for other artists, such as James Cauty, Jamie Reid and, especially, Billy Childish.
Many of the L-13 artists are successful musicians, experienced in the shared process of playing music, and L-13’s ethos has been described as that of gallery and artist working together in the way a band might.
Within Harry Adams’s paintings there is belief and disbelief, beauty and ugliness, order and disorder, dirt and cleanliness, and ecstasy and dysphonia. He summons and combines these polarities as dualities or paradoxes of discord and unity, and then evades tidy meanings, or deliberately misplaces conclusion. Saints are made grubby and grubby things are made beautiful, and ideals of love and beauty and holiness are recombined. He disrupts the perfectionism or absolutism of paintings by other artists, while ensuring that his interpretations are also homages to that absolutism or perfectionism. Huge architectural monoliths are depicted, whose important survival or cultural functions, as repositories, have their already complex meanings disrupted in further ambiguities of moral scale.
Excerpt from the essay by Neal Brown, artist and writer.