Our next Artist You Need To Know is Kim Adams.
Kim Adams is a Canadian sculptor best known for his installations that dominate a room, often employing prefabricated elements (such as cars or other industrial components). Adams’ “visual style is influenced by industrial design, architecture and automotive design. His large-scale sculptures incorporate the model railroading technique of kitbashing, and bright stock colours. They may be shown in a park or street as well as in a museum setting. His small surreal landscapes are toy-sized, and may be installed on shelves.” (from here)
“He harnesses his and our imaginations, melding the everyday; the hardware store, the wrecking yard, the model maker’s store, to create substantial and thought provoking works, from small models to large scale installations.” (from the Wynn / Tuck Gallery)
The images above are of the Bruegel – Bosch Bus which Adams has jokingly referred to as “the longest ever work in progress.” A series of images of the staff of the Art Gallery of Hamilton installing the work – which gives a fine sense of its size and the delightful details of the piece – can be seen here.
Curator and arts writer Marnie Fleming offered the following about this artwork : “[It is] a fictional world that is both magnificent and apocalyptic. Bruegel-Bosch Bus is created from a Volkswagon van that has been cut to expose territories of leisure and industry—each encroaching on the other. Embracing a world of mischief and disorder, Adams uses model kits, toys, and HO scale figures to create various areas like those found in an amusement theme park.
In this colossal work we experience a kind of “grotesque” realism where we witness grand museums created from old industrial sites, a steel plant spewing out (toxic?) waste, a strike of industrial workers ready and armed with an ultimatum, a territory where John Lennon teaches “peace” to frolicking superheroes and a movie production complex ready for “action.” Like the historical artists for which the piece is named, Adams creates landscapes and scenes of daily life that stress the absurd and vulgar but are also imbued with zest and fine detail. Adams has created a mobile hybrid creation that is exorbitant and continues to grow (even the gallery’s doors were rebuilt to accommodate it!) Like Bruegel’s Tower of Babel it is a parasite too big for its host. Astute, playful, serious and enticing, this marvellous work is an invitation to look at ourselves and the values we entertain.”
A video of the Bruegel-Bosch Bus installation at the Art Gallery of Hamilton can be seen here.
Born in Edmonton, Adams attended the Northwest Institute of the Arts (1974), the Kootenay School of Art (1974-1975), and the University of Victoria (1975-1977) : he would earn an MFA from the University of Victoria in 1979.
Adams has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Australia, the United States and Europe : a notable career highlight was his participation (In 1997) in the international exhibition Skulptur Projekte 97 (Münster, Germany). Other significant solo exhibitions include Kim Adams: One for the Road (2012, Museum London, London, ON), Kim Adams: Recent Works (2013 at the Art Gallery of Ontario), Artist Colony (at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, ON), Roadside Attractions (Galerie Stadtpark, Krems, Austria), and Bugs and Dragons at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Recent group shows include Beyond / In Western New York (2010 in Buffalo, NY), Insiders (Musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux, France), and El Geni de Les Coses (at the Office for Artistic Diffusion (ODA) in Barcelona).
A short video of the above work Love Birds (1998 – 2010) which is in the permanent collection of the Remai Modern (Saskatoon, SK) can be seen here.
Kim Adams’ artwork can be found in a number of important public collections : these include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, ON), and the Centraal Museum (Utrecht, Holland). His Brueghel – Bosch Bus (1997- ongoing) is permanently installed at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Vancouver Art Gallery has had a permanent outdoor artwork by Adams which was installed on the grounds in 2001.
Adams was awarded the Governor-General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts in 2014, as well as a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2012 Gershon Iskowitz Prize from the Art Gallery of Ontario. He’s been awarded multiple grants from the OAC and the Canada Council.
The words of Margaret Priest when announcing Kim Adams’ earning the Gershon Iskowitz Prize : “But while Adams does seem to infuse his scenes from every day life with the modern equivalent of a moral tale, I suggest that he constructs his machines and builds his playgrounds without comment and without censure. With a compulsive will to form, a child’s imagination, an amoral eye, and uncontained amusement, Adams watches and records—in prodigious spheres of his own making—the times in which we live, for this generation and for those to come. It is his subjectivity, his stream of consciousness, his pullulating drawings and fantastical fabrications, together with their lack of judgment, that render Kim Adams’s body of work so ultimately objective, so fundamentally profound.”
Kim Adams lives and works in Toronto. A video produced by the Canada Council about his life and work is here.
Much more of Kim Adams’ work (and a more extensive listing of his accomplishments) can be seen at his artist page at Diaz Contemporary.