Contemporary abstraction, long at the apex of end-of-art debates, has become fraught with multiple philosophical stances and creative strategies that perhaps merely use the vocabulary of abstraction as a communicative device. That rudimentary vocabulary appears to have a significant presence in Adam Watkins’ recent monotypes, yet his reliance on the power of words shifts both intention and meaning. The charged facture of the works, the result of pigment scraped along the paper surface, conjures Gerhard Richter’s characteristic softened focus and association with photography. With a selective bow to Richter’s essentially achromatic, masterful November, December, January (1989), Watkins examines the nuance of black and white formlessness. Reminiscent of Barbara Kruger’s signature works of the 1980s with their fragmented, evocative statements juxtaposed against appropriated image, Watkins likewise provides only clues to connection of overlaid text and abstract background. The reiteration of a vibrant red or occasionally a charred and darkened cruciform adds a layer of assumptive symbolism that by its sheer conspicuousness suggests a more recondite implication. These forceful images are a significant continuation of post-formalism, an abstraction capable of addressing multiple formal and conceptual concerns.
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