Conversation with Michael Adamson is much like his painting. His distinctive imagery – blocks, bars, slashes, buttons, nature in abundance – evokes intersections of his lines of thought, literally
and metaphorically. Colour is saturated everywhere, serving as a point of view, a never shy statement of his world view as a Canadian, as both a dedicated regionalist and bold global thinker.
Dissonance is part of his vocabulary; that somehow resolves itself in the work. One idea careens off another in the same conversation, in the same painting, never easy to pin down yet engaging, serious and interesting.
I first encountered Michael Adamson in the art market through my work as an auctioneer in the late 1990s. Michael has never been shy about finding a market for his work, nor does he apologize for the non-traditional trajectory of the commercial aspects of his career. His boldness is reflected in the 90 paintings in this body of work, an ambitious undertaking. His studio/gallery/living room in Toronto’s west end teems with work in process, some finished and wrapped, ready to live on the wall, all brimming with energy.
Michael’s painting attracts a broad base of engaged collectors. Some collectors find all they need in the scale and raw beauty of the imagery and colour, others follow his line of thought, the evolving twist and turn of phrases, notes and gestures that run through his practice.
The sustained devotion of his collector base speaks to his ability to be constantly moving in his practice, yet maintain a distinctive voice in both his pure abstractions and in the emotional rawness of his landscape work. Few Canadian abstract painters exhibit their work globally with as much success as Adamson, his career enables him to be very much a beloved Canadian ‘fixture’ and achieve international appeal. He is a journeyman, voyageur and navigator, on an intellectual and aesthetic journey. One feels a comfort in his work, in that you want to live with it, love it like a friend, but also challenge it to take you deeper into its darker waters and sometimes perplexing currents. In Adamson’s words, ‘the modern landscape is an invitation to look at everything.
Michael Adamson in conversation with Stephen Ranger, Toronto, Spring 2016.