press release

Arndt & Partner are delighted to present Adam Adach's first German solo show Cheap History in Berlin.

Adam Adach's paintings seem eerily timeless. We gaze at moments of condensed stillness that are overlaid with a silvery veneer of melancholy. Inevitably, we are reminded of old photographs or movie sequences, in which the passage of time is revealed through scratches and marks, although it is difficult to determine when exactly they were produced. The artist draws on either old photographs or newspaper clippings he finds at flea markets and his own contemporary photographs as source material for his paintings. Thus all his images have been filtered through the lens of a camera. Though his compositions are based on photographs, their rendering is decidedly painterly. Much like the early Gerhard Richter, he makes conscious use of distancing elements in his painting and thus accords a dimension of permanence to these fleeting moments in time.

In Cheap History, for example, Adach selects - with the practiced eye of a professional flâneur - a random detail view of a flea market stand. The array of wares is a motley assortment, with rubber boots, books and irons side by side. But right in front, almost inconspicuously, there is a black emblem with the imperial eagle and a swastika, and among the books in the background we can, upon closer inspection, make out a history book and a publication on Pope John Paul II. This apparently random arrangement is not simply a reference to the mindless selling off of history; Adach is telling us here about the dangerously heterogeneous interest groups in contemporary Polish society, in which ultranationalists and religious conservatives are increasingly gaining a foothold and holding back the country's integration into a multicultural Europe.

However, Adach is no political activist. He is rather a quiet, sensitive observer, a traveler in time who manages to distill collective tendencies, dreams and moods into brief moments and gives them a frame that transcends time. Furthermore, the artist cleverly draws on the leaden past and the ever-changing present to piece together a hybrid post-modern reality.

Adach's competence is also shown the portrait series from 2007. Each picture depicts an individual, whose name provides the title of the work. These portraits show people in seemingly private, unobserved moments of self-absorption. They appear isolated, though they are united as a group by the "and" in the paintings' titles. However, what actually unites them much more is their pose. They appear insecure, unstable and full of doubt. In And Ewa the portrayed, wearing a suit jacket, arms crossed in front of her chest and eyes closed, seems lost in a private reverie; Julia, her pigeon-toed pose betraying indecision, clutches a cell phone in her right hand as she stares into the distance; Bob is perched on a radiator, his back to the window, taking a drag from a cigarette, tense and pensive. Adach uses rapid, dynamic brushstrokes to transport these characters to the canvas. While their contours are clearly delineated, their surroundings seem to dissolve into agitated lines. The world around them is in motion, yet they appear frozen in static poses. Their names suggest they might be Polish, like the man who painted them. The artist's native Poland has been undergoing rapid societal and political transformation since the breakdown of the Communist system. This state of flux is clearly reflected in Adach's most recent works; the poses depicted in these portraits, in particular, reveal uncertainty and doubt in the face of the new and unfamiliar.

Adam Adach
Cheap History