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Marina Adams

Although Marina Adams began exhibiting in group shows as early as 1983, she has only lately come to prominence. If her 2017 solo exhibition “Soft Power,” also at Salon 94, was, as the poet and critic John Yau noted at the time, “her breakthrough,” then this show, “Anemones,” will likely be remembered as the one that cemented her reputation as among the best abstract painters around. In particular, with the six large canvases in the gallery’s main space (seven small ones were in its upstairs reception area) she used scale to achieve something that’s been rare in contemporary painting: a sense of grandeur that is not in the least solemn, but is lively and high-spirited. To do this, she’s benefited from the same lesson that Henri Matisse retrospectively drew from the experience of Fauvism: that “the quantity of color was its quality.” But quantity is not the only tool Adams employs for intensifying hues that are not necessarily bright but are instead highly saturated—even her browns can pack a punch. I realized this when I saw a gallery visitor don her sunglasses to take a longer look at the most recent of the small works on view, the darkly searing SongLines 12, 2019, in which the artist uses complementary contrasts to push deep colors toward paradoxically shadowy brilliance. Color is just about everything in Adams’s work, and everything seems animated, in movement. The energy impelling this motion is never agitated or frantic but rather feels steady, relaxed, and spontaneously responsive. Viewing her work is like being in the passenger seat next to a driver who knows how to take the road with supreme dexterity and implicit attentiveness; you feel safe at any speed...

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