Featured Review: Paris Dream'n

Featured Review: Paris Dream'n

Jamie Adams, jeanniestretch, 2010, oil on linen.
Jamie Adams, jeanniestretch, 2010, oil on linen.

Paris Dream'n In this show of drawings and paintings, local artist Jamie Adams displays salon-style, a mythical sub-world of obsessional, invented eroticism. Continuing his acute study of the tragic and luminous screen star Jean Seberg — as she remains, in Adams' vision, trapped in the character of Patricia Franchini from Godard's 1960 Nouvelle Vague classic Breathless — the artist depicts her in various states of Mannerist undress in her Parisian apartment. But Seberg's body, while predominantly nude, is not a conventional object of desire. Her hair is clipped boyishly short and her limbs are strangely muscular, as if they belonged to a man. It's this fact that Seberg/Franchini is more male than not (think of Michelangelo's gender-bending Renaissance figures) that is this show's peculiar point of focus: male desire transmogrified into a female form, appearing at once titillating and disturbing. The proliferation of sketched and painted studies for a perhaps nonexistent final masterpiece suggests a desperate attempt to pin down the root of this singular fascination. The summary effect speaks to other classic fictional conceits — of the empty screen star who provokes the collective imagination, of the historical nude and all that it has been able to sublimate and pervert and of the artist as a socially permissible voyeur, capable of viewing and expressing what the tactical common lot dare not admit. Also showing — Mel Watkin: Trunk Show, a collection of surreal arboreal variations on the theme of dreamlike, or dreamed-of, nature. The linework in these drawings on graph paper speaks to a kind of earnestness in the search of the sublime, that ever-elusive quality more readily embodied in collective approach than in one single form. Through February 26 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634 or www.philipsleingallery.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. 

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