Bill Adams, "Finalist"

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 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Cave
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Swimmers
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss)
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Courtesy Kerry SchussBill Adams, Untitled
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss and Flying Horse Editions)
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Courtesy Kerry Schuss and Flying Horse EditionsBill Adams, Untitled etching from "Finalist" portfolio
 (Courtesy Kerry Schuss and Flying Horse Editions)
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Courtesy Kerry Schuss and Flying Horse EditionsBill Adams, Untitled etching from "Finalist" portfolio

From ancient Egypt to viral video, cats have been a constant human obsession, an ever-popular motif for all things cool, moody and inscrutable. In the graphic work of Bill Adams, the animal appears more mysterious still, thanks to its transformation into a kind of feline cyclops: an iconic image that reappears in endless variations, seemingly passed down through the generations. In “Finalist,” the artist’s fourth exhibition with Kerry Schuss and his first in the gallery’s new Orchard Street digs, Adams’s omniscient, omnipresent pet manifests itself in even more pared-down incarnations. While a recognizable body still features here and there, most of these works on paper picture little more than an all-seeing eye surrounded by variously shaped masses of fur, some almost vegetative, as if the subject were peering out from inside a bush

In the small group of intense ink-and-watercolor drawings that begin the show, whiskered faces glare from within dark landscapes that sprawl under ominous, swirling skies. In a neighboring set of ink drawings, the same four-legged deity has mutated into a fuzzy heap or cube set against a lighter ground. And in entries from a portfolio of fine chine-collé etchings published by Orlando’s Flying Horse Editions, the distinction between flora and fauna is collapsed entirely; the eerie, psychedelic results suggest a mandala or fever dream. Whatever his medium, Adams’s line work exhibits a satisfying mix of detail and density, and there is sufficient enigma in the fantastic world he imagines to keep his thematic single-mindedness from ever becoming a bore.—Michael Wilson

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