A PAINTING OF A PRISTINE GLACIER is caught underneath an abstract overlay of splotches and gold. The overlay looks equally astrological and fungal, appearing to grow over the bright landscape in a lazy fractal. Herein, New York-based painter Shane McAdams combines realism and abstraction in service of a value shift—not only challenging humanity's perception of the natural world, but also perception itself. As with McAdams' other works on view at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, the secret's in the sauce.
And the sauce is Elmer's Glue, correction fluid, and other common household substances that are applied to McAdams' landscapes, modifying the base image. McAdams' artist statement describes the value shift implied by this technique: "In the sense that the abstraction is created by the inherent properties and physical realities of the materials, these forms are more natural than the grandiose and sterile vistas depicted within."
Of course, value shifts based on "inherent properties and physical realities of the materials" are fairly common—for example, see Appendix Collective's current show at the New American Art Union, which questions the authenticity of reality by working synthetic materials until they resemble natural objects. What sets McAdams apart is his work's ability to entice an exploration of its conceptual content, without requiring such an exploration to reap immediate visual rewards. In satisfying both cerebral and visceral consumers, McAdams' work is fairly unique among material-based conceptual exhibitions.