Harry Adams OFFERINGS from a sacred mountain CATALOGUE SET Signed Ltd Edition

HARRY ADAMS: Offerings from a Sacred Wood

30 May

Galleria Alessandra Bonomo

Via del Gesù, 62, 00186 Roma

The paintings in this exhibition are the results of two residencies on a sacred mountain in the Umbrian hills. One two week period in September 2023 and a more recent one just completed in  May 2024.

Harry Adams was invited by the gallery to the ancient hermitage Eremo Santa Maria Maddalena as part of a programme of residencies that continues a legacy started in the 1970s when artists such as Sol Lewitt, Mel Bochner, Richard Nonas, Pat Steir, Joel Fischer, Richard Tuttle and many others stayed at the Eremo to make work. The hermitage is built into the rock about half way up the mountain. At the top of the mountain is a convent founded by St Francis of Assisi and a walled ‘sacred woods’ where St Francis would go to pray and hermits lived in caves.

The artists (Harry Adams is not one, but two artists – Adam Wood and Steve Lowe who work in collaboration under one name) describe the two periods at the Eremo as having two distinct values. The first was more relaxed in intent and the paintings exploratory gestures as responses to the environment they were working in. The works made were small, plentiful and free-flowing with about forty pieces being made in quick succession. The subjects for the paintings included tree stumps from the sacred wood, Giottos frescoes of St Francis and the garden at the Eremo – with the garden paintings being reminiscent of illustrations for medieval herbal manuscripts. For the second period the artists came to the Eremo prepared with a plan and much larger panels of gesso coated plywood to work on. All with a mind to make a series of grander works based on their ‘Victory Over the Sun’ paintings (named after the 1913 Russian Futurist Opera where Malevich included his first Black Square as part of the set) as monumental pieces specifically for the exhibition to compliment and offset the more humble works of the previous residency. All were made in the garden, all featuring the circle as a central motif, and all made with the same starting point but different outcomes: particularly with paintings that were left out in the thunderous rain storms or dried out overly quickly in the increasingly hot sun, then dampened again in the morning dew.

The final part of the exhibition is a tiny Holm Oak sapling liberated from just outside the walls of the Sacred Forest on top of Monteluco. This hardy evergreen tree is planted in a box on top of a specially designed plinth that emits the soundtrack to the exhibition: a distant rumble and hum with hints of heavenly melody, looped and eternal.

Accompanying the exhibition are three separate but interrelated publications. A small booklet covering the first residency, a larger scale slim volume for the second residency, and finally a dedicated publication for a poem of spiritual ecstasy by artist and writer Neal Brown who joined the artists at the Eremo for their second stay.

WHAT REMAINS? Life, Death and the Human Art of Undertaking by Rupert Callender SIGNED PYRAMID BUILDERS Edition

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