< PreviousNext >

The New York Times
March 12, 2004

The New York Times
March 12, 2004
by Ken Johnson
Bill Adams

Bill Adams makes goofy yet sophisticated drawings and paintings of animals. They're not zoologically correct; rather, with their big, cartoonish eyes, they are like friendly creatures encountered in dreams or fairy tales, or wild things envisioned by an outsider artist. Several made in richly worked blue ballpoint on paper portray a slender, one-eyed cat that might be descended from an Egyptian feline deity.

Unlike his drawings, which playfully abound in varieties of line, texture and color, Mr. Adams's paintings on canvas are made with a raw expressionist's touch in drab colors, leaving much of the white ground exposed, albeit smudged and smeared. Mr. Adams is a modernist, which is to say, preoccupied as much with the old tension between material surface and representational space as with fantasies about owls, bears, elephants or those unknown beasts lurking in the forest who are revealed only by their staring eyes and dangling pink tongues.

Still, Mr. Adams's animals have a certain totemic mystery. They are here to remind us, perhaps, that for all our cerebral overreaching, we remain ourselves, fur-bearing creatures of instinct.