Rachel Adams’ work is drawing, but not quite as we know it. Using paper draped over
wooden armatures to create large sculptural forms in bleached-out, faded pastel tones, Adams extrapolates one of drawing’s traditional functions – to define spatial relationships on a plane – into three dimensions. Her work occupies the space of the gallery much as a bronze sculpture would, but with none of its mass and spatial aggression.
Rather, her work seems both dominant and not, confrontational and self-effacing. Forms that nod to the human body, their titles (Recliner, Ottoman, Posturing) implying physical confidence and relaxation, contain contradictions.
There’s nothing imposing about their delicate, crinkled surfaces, and yet they oblige a certain mode of engagement in the viewer – looking up, around, behind – that generate an unusual power imbalance between the viewer and the viewed.
Occupying the space of the human body, Adams’ works suggest a physical absence, something drained of life, yet crackling with potential energy.
Text by Ben Street
Rachel Adams: Papering Over The Cracks
4th April, 2011, by Andrew Cattanach, The Skinny
The Skinny finds Rachel Adams' solo show at The Duchy looks set to make a splash.
Rachel Adams makes sculptures from paper, amongst other things. “I started using paper when I was at college, and I had this realisation halfway through my final year that everything I had made was something flat made into something sculptural,” she explains.
Crumpling, painting and shredding, she manipulates the paper into three dimensional forms. Her ability to give something so distinctly flat such sculptural integrity is her foremost skill. Folded tightly in on itself, the paper occupies space, derisively brandishing its rigidity.
There’s also something of paper’s accessibility that makes it such an obvious starting point, that it is quite fundamental to the art-making process, despite one’s preferred medium. “There was that immediacy that you could just go to a shop and do something really quickly, and I think that’s what drew me to it,” she explains. “Of course, I never realised I was going to end up painting rolls and rolls of the stuff.”
Among her various techniques, Adams often begins by painting the paper. Not solely decoration, the paint gives the paper a firmness it wouldn’t normally possess, allowing the sculptures to hold in place, resting upon their own folds. Carefully selected, the colour of the paint often complements the colour of the paper, and when it shows through seems to simulate an exaggerated depth of field, as though the paper’s folds were chasms on the surface of a larger object seen from afar.
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