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.Click here for a complete list of St. Louis art capsules.
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