Lisa Adams, Petrichor at CB1 Gallery
By Jacqueline Bell Johnson
Through April 9th
Lisa Adams’ series of paintings come together to create the show Petrichor at CB1 Gallery. Coined by scientists studying wet weather and the smells created therein, the word petrichor refers to the lingering scent when rain arrives after a dry spell.1 It is a word that represents chemical reactions, and for Californians it is a pleasantry reminisced and not often experienced.
These paintings function in the same way, collectively forming a dreamscape reminiscent of the sights of LA. Unnamable familiarities, just on the tip of your tongue mesh with objects of immediate importance, all of which make sense for a few moments then the fleeting comprehension fades. A language of color connects the works, maintaining a continuous palette. Bright flat shapes in pink, orange, blue, and yellow pop to the eye as one scans the room.
Assessing the works individually is a challenge. The rich saturated color pulls the viewer in toward the canvas. The surface is a mix of painterly imagery, color fields, and floating shapes. Adams plays with the surface textures at times, masking off shapes to produce crisp edges, or filling with paint in thick patterns. Confronted with these combinations, the viewer is forced to go in and out of the reality of the image being seen and the object that is paint on canvas. This takes the surreal works further and highlights the artist’s process as one of decisive layering.
The paintings are all of a modest size (ranging from 16×20 to 24×20) relating to the body and allowing the viewer an intimate inspection. The piece Spontaneous Generation features a full color two-headed weed, its stem a complex shape in sky blue. The plant is positioned in front of a black and white background with blurred hints of a concrete city-scape. The immediate foreground is a wide red ledge, painted so thick it sticks out from the surface. Lisa Adams’ skill as painter is seeing these random elements combine rather than fight to create a cohesive composition which gives the eye a space to rest and observe, breathing in each component before moving on to the next. These visuals go beyond the trendy Instagram interpretations of a city’s beauty feeling more inclusive than strategically cropped.
In the mix are two still lives: Giphy and Giphy 2. The title comes from an internet database of GIF files and other animated imagery. Though her title choice suggests this as the source of the visuals for her paintings, the works feel more like way to revere objects found within this dreamlike landscape than a technological reference. Both paintings can be interpreted literally as colorful flowers in a funky vase in the style of Frank Gehry. Keeping in mind that GIF files are time/movement based, a lot is lost in the commitment of such graphics to paint. Things are slowed to a halt, shown as a sliver of a larger action. But what if more is gained? The arrested image is now one that can be examined and pondered, buying time for the viewer to memorize instead of instantly dismissing.
The exhibition Petrichor as a whole presents the familiar in a new and intriguing way, but with a slow grace allowing us to fully digest the view and linger on the scent. Petrichor by Lisa Adams is on view at CB1 Gallery until April 9th.
Lisa Adams, Petrichor
February 25th through April 9th
1923 South Santa Fe Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90021