This exhibition is lean, engaged and fastidiously considered, examining myriad possibilities of a painting show both within the confines of individualized pictorial spaces as well as the total installation.
True to our moment, Henry plays discursively with the possibilities of form, propositionally tinkering with ways to produce different effects within the relatively defined limits of his visual syntax. Three large paintings made of synthetic polymer hang on separate walls. The diagrammatic esthetic conjures up corporate flowcharts and 8-bit video-game graphics. Hard-edged, unmodulated color shapes with little to no brushwork of primary red, yellow, blue, along with black, float ambiguously in dark purple color fields on hyper-smooth linen surfaces. Aside from the purple field, no single color shape stays the same from painting to painting. Flatness is juxtaposed against depth, geometric volume is paired with flatness. Centripetal interiority is established in one painting, while centrifugal extension beyond the picture plane is presented in another. While each of the primary color elements functions as spatial alternatives, floating boundlessly within the deep purple, the black forms are treated a little differently. They remain comparatively flat throughout, perhaps implying they are meant to signify both form and shadow simultaneously. Throughout, perceptual ambiguity is clearly articulated. And that’s what’s so fun about the show: while the paintings initially can come across as spare or cold in disposition, Henry is actually producing liberated models of visual promiscuity through painting’s many seductive possibilities.
A collection of five small monochromatic canvases lean against the wall nearest “Untitled (Transverse).” These monochromes, made from commercially dyed canvas, were selected by the artist for their terse, elemental color palette. Less a collection of monochromes than a minimalist prop, they directly relate to the abstract shapes that design the space of the three larger paintings, as well as extend their inquisitive interior logic outward by activating the sculptural reality of a painting’s objectness with the installation of the gallery. This complicates the wall-hung paintings, making them a hybrid between pure geometric abstraction and a self-reflexive meta-index that pictorially refers to the aggregate of monochromatic objects, ostensibly used to produce the shapes within the paintings.
Adam Henry’s installation is epistemological in nature. He thoughtfully and rigorously considers what’s inherently possible in the things we think we know about painting. Whether he is managing the readymade esthetic of commercially available materials, or technocratically experimenting with the myriad spatial dynamics available to us through painting’s seemingly endless visual iterations, Henry laconically and successfully models what’s possible when one expounds upon syntax for the sake of exploratory, productive play. (Andrew Falkowski)
Adam Henry’s “As Fiction” shows through October 28 at Paris London Hong Kong, 1709 West Chicago.