Jan 202010

Harmony Hammond recently reviewed, in the Albuquerque Journal, Jan Adlmann’s current sculpture show at the EightModern Gallery in Santa Fe.  She writes perceptively and convincingly about the work.  I’ve lived with three of Jan’s assemblages for quite a while now and have had ample time to reflect on their meanings, or whether they might be devoid of meaningful content.  Even knowing the pieces so well, I don’t hesitate to agree with Hammond’s observations.

I’m especially taken with her comment about the work’s attempt to balance Modernist restraint with campy whimsy.  The tension, though, between those opposing characteristics cuts more deeply than Hammond has chosen to acknowledge.

The highly edited economy of means that the artist uses to assemble his sculptures is indeed a Modernist manner.  But the way the pieces are put together is much less important than what they’re made of.  The Modern parts of these pieces are spare parts of machines of atomic war.  These leftovers, which are the structure and core of Adlmann’s works, are about radioactivity and the end of the world.

The artist decorates these scary and dangerous artifacts with pieces of outlandishly silly and kitschy debris.  With applied ornamentation the sculptor transforms reminders of the fragile state of humanity into mere baubles, of the sort much favored by drag queens.

But the hard steel hearts are left only partially disguised; Adlmann does not hide them. He will allow no one to forget that, lurking underneath all the glittery, tawdry hilarity, there’s real menace afoot.  He makes us smile in all our arch sophistication, all the while reminding us that we stare destruction in the face, at close quarters.  His pieces may be humorous, but they are far from merely “lite”.




The Last Castrato

Fleur d'Esclavage (Bondage flower)

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