Adam Sorensen: APEX Exhibition in PORT's "The Score III"

Wed, 12/07/2011

Adam Sorensen at PAM, Tabernacle (2011) on the left (photo Jeff Jahn)

"[...]Adam Sorensen's show at the Portland Art Museum's Apex space is one of the very best they have ever presented, partially because the canvases on display represent a new level for the artist. The paint handling is better, with a penchant for serialized forms that appear to luminesce with an eerie graduated glow. The compositions although landscapes also manage to have a more all over, non-hierarchical structure that along with the luminescence recall Robert Irwin and other light and space artists. Then there is the color, which is starker with cleaner blues, blacks, greens oranges and pink. The result is alien, like art rock album covers for the band YES from the 70's but instead of being merely trippy they highlight the way we project ourselves into nature... but with a twist, there is no room for humans and it is difficult to tell what is mineral or vegetable. Even the brooding spatial compression of the work seems to keep the sky in check. These paintings are initially seductive like a psychedelic postcard image but ultimately remain beyond reach. In fact, it is difficult to tell if Sorensen's vision is idealized or horrific as a kind of meeting between Eva Hesse and Caspar David Friedrich? In particular the largest work, Tabernacle is a landmark piece and it would be nice if PAM could acquire it... since like most Northwest art collections it rarely possesses the best or key works from important artists (in a commercial gallery it would sell very quickly giving PAM little chance).

Thus, it is extremely refreshing to see a very relevant breakthrough moment happen within PAM's walls, so often they are late to the party. In this case they have chosen well with one of the key painters who moved here within the last decade or so. Question is can PAM build some momentum by featuring relevant “truly contemporary” artists as they make major statements? Can they get beyond traditional wall painting and floor sculpture to address the shift towards new media and less commercial work? What about edgier, less academic or less so-called “commercially viable” work? Lastly, how is the Apex Program to be defined in contrast to the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards? For a partial answer Sorensen's show is a tantalizingly relevant programmatic move but unless there is follow through it will feel like an anomaly . One of the best shows of the year, congrats! [...]"

-Jeff Jahn, 2011

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