Artist statements


A painting cannot be an idea.

A painted image is the residue of a process, of a brief span of concentration by the artist. The resultant image can only be the sum of effort expended, judgement exercised and prejudice put into practice. Paint accumulates until the boundaries are filled and defeat is finally admitted.

These gouaches are derived from small, newspaper photographs; they mimic the size and tonal range of their sources. What you see are copies of found designs, consisting of only patterns and blocks of tone in shades of grey. The artists has never personally observed this figure, that landscape, those buildings and therefore cannot vouch for the honesty of the given images; the artist has, however, endeavoured to transcribe these little lies as accurately and sensitively as possible.

- October 1997, unpublished


What interests me, what pushes me on to create, is the possibility of making an image that somehow evokes a range of powerful and deeply-felt associations within the viewer. A successful painting would be felt as well as seen, the viewer reacting to picture as if it were one of his/her own memories or recollections. The strongest image would feel a part of the viewer. There would be no separation between viewer and viewed object, the painted form would be both unexpected and yet inevitable, like a ghost from the memory arising unbidden.

- July 2001

Alexander Adams: Selected Paintings catalogue, 2001


Originally, the concept of using no other colours apart from black and white was a strategy for ensuring consistency. However, over a period of time it became apparent that refusing the use of other colours was a form of renunciation. Deliberately relinquishing the emotive, decorational and descriptive potential of colour became, almost unforeseen, a deliberate stance. An artist who restricts himself through increasingly narrow specialisation, prompted by genuine obsession or deliberate obtuseness, is reacting against the rich possibilities of art.

If a painter rejects decoration, realism, variety and reference to the natural world, what remains? Can anything of value be created in such a restricted and artificial arena? The more imposing the restrictions, the harder the painter must strive to achieve. The principle of faux naïf is a cultured artist taking a false position of ignorance. The opposing principle is that of a knowledgeable artist who deliberately limits himself with a considered restriction but expresses himself more eloquently for having to overcome this obstacle, albeit a self-imposed obstacle.

- August 2001, unpublished


Further artist statements can be found in exhibition catalogues.