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Abstract attraction: ‘Japanese Garden’ show chronicles artist’s transition

Carol Adamec says that for 50 years she chased beauty with brushes and paint until recently finding it in abstract renderings of natural forms inspired by Japanese gardens, traditional Asian fashion and prehistoric Anasazi designs.

In her “In a Japanese Garden – An Interpretation” solo show at the Weyrich Gallery, Adamec introduces the “Kimono Series” to chronicle her transition into the realm of abstraction.

"Floating Rose Kimono" by Carol L. Adamec is part of her stunning solo exhibition.

“Floating Rose Kimono” by Carol L. Adamec is part of her stunning solo exhibition.

Many compositions are built within the kimono form, with content ranging from flowers to curvilinear and geometric nonfigurative patterns. Adamec’s skills as a realist make each masterfully executed image a feast for hungry eyes.

In works like “Floating Rose Kimono,” “Crackled Kimono” and one of my favorites, “White Lily Kimono” Adamec utilizes the kimono shape as the basis for her composition.

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Albuquerque weaver and painter Nancy Kozikowski also has worked with the Tau Cross-form kimono as part of her decades-long exploration of global folk art weaving motifs.

But Adamec is picking up hints from the history of fine arts rather than folk traditions.

“O’Keeffe Calla” by Carol L. Adamec has roots close to home but may exhibit more careful brushwork than the artist’s metaphorical mentor.

“O’Keeffe Calla” by Carol L. Adamec has roots close to home but may exhibit more careful brushwork than the artist’s metaphorical mentor.

In her “Crackled Kimono,” Adamec found inspiration in Chinese crackle-glazed pottery, including the Asian tradition of caring for rare pottery by repairing actual cracks with pure gold.

Another historic reference a bit closer to home is Adamec’s “O’Keeffe Calla” a truly sculptural rendition of one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s recurring subjects.

Adamec may well be a more careful brush wielder than O’Keeffe, who often worked quickly to render flower blossoms in heroic scale without much concern for the final lick of the brush.

One of Adamec’s many gorgeously rendered flower motifs is “White Lily Kimono” a jaw-dropper that has interdimensional aspects.

While working in exhibition design at the Seattle Art Museum, yours truly had an encounter with a Japanese woodblock print that depicted a carp swimming through a woman’s kimono.

“White Lily Kimono” by Carol L. Adamec is a gorgeous painting with interdimensional aspects that showcase cross cultural inspiration.

“White Lily Kimono” by Carol L. Adamec is a gorgeous painting with interdimensional aspects that showcase cross cultural inspiration.

The painstaking line quality of the fish in motion could have been found in an ichthyology textbook.

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The almost photorealistic carp was not affected by the folds of material or the curves of the figure.

Like Adamec’s “White Lily Kimono,” in which the blossom appears to exist on a different spatial plane, the carp in the woodblock swam in water contained in a different dimension.

Similar spatial tricks are used in Adamec’s “Floating Rose Kimono,” the first piece of hers that reminded me of the swimming carp.

Her richly rendered “Royal Garden” allows Adamec to more freely explore a floral motif with a slight departure from kimono constraint.

“Royal Garden” by Carol L. Adamec is reminiscent of luxuriant medieval tapestries with Chinese and Japanese overtones.

“Royal Garden” by Carol L. Adamec is reminiscent of luxuriant medieval tapestries with Chinese and Japanese overtones.

The luxuriant overall feeling is reminiscent of medieval tapestry design.

There are myriad cultural overlays within this body of work. Most of the Japanese art forms cited, including woodblock printing and the Japanese garden, were imported from China in the eighth century, along with the Buddhist religion.

In Japan, the Shinto-inspired gardens and woodblock prints remain as living traditions.

In works such as “Kimono II” and “Rolling Along,” Adamec references both Anasazi and Mayan inspiration. The New World Anasazi and Mayan societies peaked in about A.D. 900-1100, so the entire show has deep roots that Adamec has re-conjured and re-manifested in the 21st century.

Adamec has arrived at a creative junction that is likely to open many more doors than it closes. Her current work is well-crafted, thoughtfully designed and inspired by majestic cultural milestones.

Most of the pieces are small, but like medieval monks having large thoughts in small rooms, Adamec has tapped into the power and fragility of the butterfly.

To paraphrase the late and great Muhammad Ali, Adamec’s mixed media and painted works float like butterflies and sting like bees. Look out kids she’s going for the brass ring. Don’t miss it.

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