To a World Full of Others

In our recent publication featuring Marina Adams' latest exhibition at von Bartha, Basel, we delve into the mesmerizing world of her newest paintings.

In our recent publication featuring Marina Adams' latest exhibition at von Bartha, Basel, we delve into the mesmerizing world of her newest paintings.

by Mareike Dittmer
Mareike Dittmer is Assistant Director of the Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation, Berlin, and Senior Publishing Consultant at e-flux, New York. She engages in tentacular thinking and narrative practices in writing, curation, and in transdisciplinary alliances, while she lectures at the Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK and co-chairs together with Julieta Aranda the next chapters of the Futurological Congress, imagining and interrogating futures from several discrete perspectives.
Marina Adams standing in front of her work

What do we look for in a painting? Do we assume that it captures the way things look? Or can we expand our ways of seeing and allow for sensation to become perception? Each painting by Marina Adams possesses a unique point of departure, a distinct beginning from which its narrative and visual journey unfolds. To join this journey, the paintings beckon you into their world. Some offer an open gateway while others are hinting to look for another entrance. North to the Back Door. Either way, they extend an invitation to enter a space for thought and for doubt. A space where permission is given to deviate from any prescribed understandings. There is no dictation of inherent meaning. Instead, a space is offfered where your response confirms presence and substance. You can find serenity and fear, bliss and anguish. It is a space for the sound of wind and waves, where sceneries think themselves. A space that is asking you to approach with a sense of directness which involves more than just physical proximity; it is drawing you in, into a world where subtle moments and movements reveal themselves upon listening and closer inspection.

Listening, because there is a musical level to enter these paintings. Their call resonates as more than just an instruction. Sing Your Power. It is an invocation that encourages tapping into your inner strength and expressing yourself confidently. The titles are hinting to musical references and lines from poems, like echoes to guide you. Within these painted worlds, the evocation of melodies and lyrics serve as thresholds through which you can immerse in the intricate landscape of emotions and stories. Shapes of color become vessels for the whispering voices imbuing the canvas with layers of meaning and intention. 3 Wishes for Ornette. The titles, through the sequencing of words, suggest clarity, while at the same time they are incurring thoughts and feelings to translate from and into forms. There is joy and tranquility, despair and turmoil. While dissonance in sound allow rhythms to be simultaneously on and off, the constellation of canvases turn the gallery into a stage where emotions play out while the  choreography of colors and shapes unfold in complexity. Where Salome Danced. Listening to the call of a painting is to engage with imagination. As you heed the whispers of shapeshifting forms, you embark on a journey of transformation.

Studio view of the exhibition in the making
Marina Adams
North to the Back Door, 2023
Acrylic on linen
172.7 x 147.3 cm

Looking at these paintings together, at first glance, they may seem like a cohesive whole, much like the canopy of a forest. Cedar of Lebanon. However, upon closer inspection, you can discover the myriad details and intricacies, akin to the diverse flora and fauna found within a forest ecosystem. Each painting is both an exterior and interior landscape, an offering to hold your ground and an invitation to step inside. While navigating through a foliage of patterns, shapes and colors you are encouraged to interact, to consider the sedimentary layers accumulated over time. Imagine the stories embedded in each stratum –structures in relation, shifting patterns, unravelling intentions, tantalizing senses– a narrative woven from catching up with fleeting moments in time. There is triumph and tribulation, compassion and sorrow, hope and despair. Bird Lit Day. When your ways of viewing transcend from observation to perception, you are in dialogue, connected to the invisible layers of painting that are humming in the back of each canvas. You are connecting to painting as a way of thinking, a method to turn inside negotiations with the world to the outside, offering a notion of porosity that opens new perspectives. Stone Cold Fox Redux.

Von Bartha Marina Adams 0965
Marina Adams
Cedar of Lebanon, 2023
Acrylic on linen
228.6 x 177.8 cm

Part of this thinking is to create rules, rules that act as boundaries and are there to be consciously and confidently questioned and, if necessary, broken. Gestures on the canvases reveal traces of an evolving process, choices that have been made. Not as a particular expression of fleeting feelings or to hold a situated notion of concern but to conceptually deal with the adjustment of interferences, the sensual acknowledgement of the almost magical ability of color to stir emotions, both in the painter and in the viewer. Blue Diva. There is no literal way of reading, no instruction. ‘I don’t translate emotions into colors. Although color is emotional, I think of it not in a descriptive, prescriptive way. In the studio, I think of the complexities of color – darkness and light, light especially, temperature, space, depth. Self Portrait in 5 Colors. At its heart, seeing color is an agreement and an exercise in holding potential contradictions. There is a tension zone depicted rather than an actual conflict with more at play than ego or brain power. And destruction can be productive. Side to Side in Halftime.

Detail of "Self Portrait in 5 Colors", 2024
Acrylic on linen
198.1 x 172.7 cm
78 x 68 in
Selection of paintings ready for the show at the studio of Marina Adams

This is where and when time enters the room, time that allows for thoughts to settle, to actually see the work and let time finish the painting. As with the relentless movements of waves following the call of the tides, these paintings capture moments in time while they grow slowly and build their own timeline. Nefertiti. They take you on a journey to reflect on the cyclical nature of life while they give sense of structure and scale. They can be portals through which we embark on a journey of reflection, contemplating the passage of time and the shifting ways of appearance. SOMEWHERE, over the rainbow. While providing a sense of sanctuary and solitude, offering refuge from the hustle and bustle of daily life, these paintings can serve as windows into inner worlds, offering moments of introspection and solace. At the same time, every painting is a world unto itself, a universe waiting to be explored to deepen our understanding of the world around and beyond us, with untold stories and infinite possibilities to be found. Marrakech. Uncovering these hidden treasures requires patience and introspection, but the rewards are boundless, as they offer insights into the radical beauty and interconnectedness of all things, into a whole world full of others.

SOMEWHERE, over the rainbow, 2023
Acrylic on linen
223.5 x 198.1 cm

Where Salome Danced, 2024
Acrylic on linen
228.6 x 177.8 cm
Sing Your Power IV, 2023
Acrylic on linen
101.6 x 76.2 cm

3 Wishes for Ornette, 2023
Acrylic on linen
248.9 x 198.1 cm
Working desk at the studio of Marina Adams

Studio images: Aundre Larrow;
Single photography artworks: Andreas Zimmermann
Installation views: Philipp Hänger

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