Chicago: Adam Scott at Julius Caesar

Contributed by Robin Dluzen / Adam Scott’s latest exhibition, “Silent Running” at Julius Caesar in Chicago, is a kind of Helen-Frankenthaler-color-field-painting-meets-Gram-Parsons-desert-pilgrimage experience. The works are arguably Scott’s most pared-down and abstract to date, devoid of all but a suggestion of the representational. The artist fills each canvas, edge-to-edge, with his signature poured acrylic. The all-over compositions undulate with the ripples of metallic paint released onto the canvas and then pulled, creating a mirage effect that conveys the artist’s stated interest in desert landscapes. Scott describes his works as “hallucinogenic” and “phantasmic,” and they are, though not in the way one might expect.

[Image: Adam Scott, Terraform VII, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 70 inches.]

Adam Scott, Terraform VIII, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 70 inches.

The paint pools heavily on the surface of these canvases, its weightiness palpable. They lack the telltale drips or runs of a painting created vertically, so it’s clear they were made parallel to the ground. When a viewer stands before one of the finished pieces hung upon the wall, he or she is likely to sense a shift in directionality–as if floor has been yanked from underneath. And in pieces like Terraform VIII, the composition compounds the disorientation. Here a central pentagon of poured silver paint is surrounded on all sides by square paintings, each featuring a central silver pour on an ombre ground. These painted shifts in the background tones are suggestive of alternate horizons, each with its own gravitational delineation of what is up and what is down.

Adam Scott, Terraform IV, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 60 inches

Adam Scott, Terraform VI, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 60 inches

Adam Scott, Terraform I, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 58 x 43 inches

Adam Scott, Silent Running, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 70 inches.

Adam Scott, Terraform III, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 50 inches

Adam Scott, Terraform II, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 50 inches.

Adam Scott, installation view of Terraform II  and Terraform VII at Julius Caesar.
There are two distinct types of works in “Silent Running:” patterned-based, geometric abstractions, and more novel figure-ground compositions. In the latter, the big silvery pours dominate the center of the canvases, the flowing layers of paint creating shapes that are vaguely familiar–like the rock formations eroded by centuries of desert wind and sand that, silhouetted on the horizon, begin resembling whatever one’s mind wants to see. In Terraform VII, one of these curious silver forms is surrounded by perpendicular ridges, suggesting an otherworldly icon with a radiating halo. Scott’s works in this exhibition slip among the cracks of abstraction, landscape, and portraiture, and their power comes from their capacity to be all of these at a given moment but none of them simultaneously.
Adam Scott: Silent Running,” Julius Caesar, Chicago, IL. Through June 19. On the day of the closing, there will be a talk with  Lynne Warren of the MCA Chicago.

Author bio: Robin Dluzen is a Chicago-based artist and critic. The former editor-in-chief of Chicago Art magazine, Dluzen now writes regularly for Art Ltd Magazine, Visual Art Source and Art F City; her writing has also appeared in Newcity, The Reader, the New American Paintings blog, ArtNet, The Classical and The Outsider magazine. Dluzen received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

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