The Idea of Place. Kim Adams: One for the Road

By Becky Rynor on March 04, 2014

Kim Adams, Gift Machine (1988), scooters, wheelbarrows, ladders, tennis balls, umbrellas, bags. Courtesy of the artist and Diaz Contemporary. Photo: Mike Lalich

Tuesday, March 4, 2014: The Canada Council for the Arts announced the laureates for the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2014. click here for details. Congratulations to Kim Adams and all the other laureates! The National Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of the winners’ works, opening on March 28, 2014. Stay tuned for an NGC Magazine article on the GG Awards exhibition.

As a child, Canadian artist Kim Adams moved around a lot. It was a lifestyle that always left him yearning for a sense of place. 

“So when I first started making things, at the very least I had to be able to put a bed in it and sleep in my art,” he says. “Or order a pizza. It had to have the idea of a place I could function or sleep in.”

Kim Adams: One for the Road, on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton until 4 May, examines that sense of place, home, and strange new worlds. It also reflects the artist’s 30-year career as an obsessive and enthusiastic assembler and sculptor. Adams’ trademark style features model parts and miniatures, nuts and bolts, bits and pieces of bikes, appliances and equipment. He frequently scavenges and re-purposes the entire chassis of cars and trucks, in a process known as “kitbashing.”

“Kitbashing is a pretty common term, ” he says. “It comes from when I was a kid, and you would buy several different model car kits. You’d take the wheels from a hot rod, then you’d take a body from another car and cut the roof down. You’d ‘bash’ it. It’s slang for re-assemblage. That’s what this work is.”

Adams is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading contemporary sculptors. The National Gallery has two of his drawings—Gee Wee Productions (in situ) (1985) and Curbing Machine and Other Street Works (1986)—as well as two of his sculptures in its permanent collection. Two-headed Lizard and a Single Shot (1987) was fashioned from two truck cabs, wheels, a metal garden shed, a stereo system and lawn chairs. Minnow Lure (2004) is a corrugated aluminum grain bin adapted into a functional shelter on skis.

Kim Adams, Travels Through the Belly of the Whale (detail) [2012–13], steel, aluminum, wood, plexi and HO model parts. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid, courtesy of the artist, Diaz Contemporary and the Art Gallery of Ontario

“He’s encouraging people to look a little more closely at their surroundings, and obviously at consumer culture,” says Melissa Bennett, Curatorial Liaison for the Art Gallery of Hamilton. “He wants people to spend more time with the mass quantity of objects we have, while adding a philosophical element to that level of playfulness.”

The Art Gallery of Hamilton already owns Adams’ Bruegel—Bosch Bus, a 1960 Volkswagen that appears to pull a post-industrial universe. Bennett says One for the Road—33 models, 7 sculptures and 24 works on paper—delivers more of what gallery-goers love about this artist’s work.

“The bus is wildly popular and huge, and has tons of toys attached to it,” she says. “We have visitors who come back to the gallery once a week and they always see parts that they haven’t seen before. This new exhibition includes big sculptures that rival the scale of the bus. So One for the Road offers what our visitors normally come for, on kind of an exploded scale.” 

Kim Adams: One for the Road was organized by Museum London (London, Ontario), and will be on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton until May 4, 2014.


By Becky Rynor| March 04, 2014
Categories:  Correspondents

About the Author

Becky Rynor

Becky Rynor

Becky Rynor is a journalist and editor based in Ottawa.

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