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By Andrew Frost
The title of Ron Adams’s latest show has many possible references, two of them musical. On the one hand, “under heavy manners” is Jamaican patois meaning “a state of oppression” that referred to the state of emergency declared in Jamaica in 1976. Taken up by rastas, the term spread to the UK where it referred to both Thatcherism and the generally shitty state of modern life. The other meaning is musical, where the term was used by Prince Far I and Lee Scratch Perry as album titles, and in the UK by Robert Fripp, arguably one of the loudest guitarists of all time, for an album of Frippertronics.
So how might this connect to Adams’s paintings? The artist uses a very strict and controlled compositional methodology, abstracting and arranging familiar real-world symbols and icons interlinked into works that produce a remarkably varied result. As one tries to make sense of the richly contrasting colours and shapes, the familiarity of individual elements slip into a far more ambiguous zone, at once enlivening the work but making strange something that, by all reason, should be fairly straightforward. Adams’s paintings are demanding of your time, but pay off the effort with ample reward. Jah.
Until November 30
Galerie Pompom, Chippendale
Pic: Ron Adams, Just in the nick of time!, 2013, acrylic on board, 30 x 30 cm. Photo: Brett East
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