2005 – Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University
2001 – Beaux Arts Gallery, London
2001 – North House Gallery, Manningtree, Essex
2000 – Linton Court Gallery, Settle, North Yorkshire
1998 – Beaux Arts Gallery, London
1997 – Beaux Arts Gallery, Bath
1996 – Beaux Arts Gallery, London
1995 – Royal Academy of Arts (Sackler Galleries)
1994 – Dean Clough, Halifax, Yorkshire
1992/3 – Christopher Hull Gallery, London
1992/3 – Bruton Street Gallery, London
Work in Public Collections
Abbot Hall, Kendal, Aberdeen City Art Gallery, Carlisle City Art Gallery, Cartwright Hall, Bradford, Edinburgh Museum of Modern Art, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Hatton Gallery Mercer Gallery Harrogate, Newcastle, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds University, Southampton City Art Gallery, St Martins College, Lancaster, Tate Gallery London, Wakefield City Art Gallery.
“Norman Adams who died in March 2005, at the age of 78, was one of the most significant artists this country has produced over the last half-century. A pictorial and profoundly visionary Romantic thinker in the direct line of Blake and Palmer, Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash, he forged a visual language of intense power and originality, entirely contemporary in character. That he has not achieved wider public recognition for his work is quite extraordinary though the exhibitions which are being planned by 108 Fine Art, working with the artist’s estate, for later this year and beyond, and leading up to a touring retrospective for 2008/9, look certain to bring his work to the attention of a much wider group of museum curators and collectors over the next few years.
Central to his achievement is the boldness of his thinking on what his art should be about. A youthful, and lasting enthusiasm for Blake, membership of anarchist groups and imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs as a conscientious objector in 1947, provide some powerful clues to the nature and strength of his political views which were, for him, always indissolubly linked with his painting. “I grew up beginning to associate art and religion and political thinking as one great big thing that had to be dealt with as a whole” he once wrote and it is this natural and intuitive linking of political and moral concerns with the sacred which has always given such a sharp edge of contemporaneity to the eternal human values to be found in all of his work. “Probably the greatest mystery of all is Man” he once observed of himself, “and I think that my art is about him, even if it doesn’t depict him, or seem figurative…”, words that bring together in sharp focus all the apparently diverse strands of landscape and still-life, pagan and Christian themes, transcriptions of the Old Masters and re-workings of van Gogh that make up his apparently broad-ranging subject matter.
Yet for all the significance his work places on subject matter it was always Adams’ intuitive feeling for the forms to match them to match them which his themes so intensely to life. Key to this was, first, his close and incessant observation of Nature and, second, his feeling for the emotional impact of colour. “I know of only one way to achieve form – to discover it in nature and one discovers it by looking” –“Painting is the only art form which has significant colour and with colour I try to reach intangible things” were the words he used to describe the process and whether it is the misty greens and dense purples of his 70s Hebridean landscapes, the fiery reds and golds of his 80s Provencal subjects or the exhilarating kaleidoscopes of colour of his later sacred themes, you invariably find echoes of Adams’ own testimony: “The artist should be able to hold his head up in the presence of great priests and be able to say ‘I too have tried to make sense, to be helpful, to be necessary.’”
Nicholas Usherwood, April 2006