Rachael Harker

Review: SOLO presents Adam Wilson Holmes

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Adam Wilson Holmes

Adam Wilson Holmes opened up the five night exhibition on Monday (April 27) at INDEPENDENT in Sunderland.

Numbers slowly flocked in. A great turn out for the first exhibition Adam has done by himself.

There was a charming offer of different flavoured milk on entry as background and current information was the next thing that grabbed each guest’s attention, as many huddled around the blackboard wall to absorb Adam’s views on masculinity. From this you could tell the event was incredibly comforting and very well thought out. Every detail, from the lighting to the placement of pieces had been beautifully planned.

The initial atmosphere was that of relaxation, the room felt warm, despite being full of aspects many would initially find intimidating. It felt like a box of secrets waiting to be explored.

The first piece, titled Jockstrap Series, was a series of drawings of men in said item and in a variety of poses. From first glance it was simplicity of seduction, however, with further studying and the views of Adam, it became more about the ideal of manhood. Adam had left all the marks on the drawings with mistakes not erased or crossed out, to show the balance in the hunt for perfection and its domino effect on men not yet at that stage. Adam viewed this piece on a personal level and believed it is a sublime piece enabling men to feel comfortable with their own bodies and to inspire others with body confidence.

The central piece of the exhibition was titled Sheath and was a phallus dagger resting on a hand. The piece was central and on a raised platform which portrayed its importance in highlighting the message of the exhibition. It was standing alone and showed its vulnerability, yet a piece that had so many powerful connotations behind it. Finding the balance of improvement and acceptance was what I felt from this piece, it was a beautifully crafted piece which highlighted Adam’s wide range of talent.

One of the biggest and most moving pieces at the exhibition was untitled, but showed a pile of jock straps on the floor with a light shining on them and weights resting on a bench in the background. An intimidating set but a feeling of peace. Seems confusing but it was incredibly powerful and was a personal favourite of the exhibition. This piece reflected a sense of mourning, almost like a goodbye to the blood sweat and tears gone into the divine perfection these muscle craving men have parted with. Their futile efforts resting in this piece, as you realise it boils down to nothing more than self-gratification. All of the items were labelled XXL but were incredibly small, showing the struggle in confidence that men face, which, before seeing this exhibition, was unknown to me, due to how unheard of this subject is.

There was a video playing on the wall which showed Adam lifting one of the foam weights that was on the bench. The video played above all the other pieces and was like a sense of worship to the male goal of lifting weights and improving body image. It was at this point the brick work and bare wood in the room was noticed, Adam had used this to wonderful effect and made the environment manly but not intimidating.

The exhibition is beautifully thought-provoking and can be enjoyed by both women and men. Women face body struggles that are constantly at the forefront of the media, yet so do men, and it’s often covered up and not spoken about, which is why this exhibition is so powerful,it shows the struggles and purpose of manhood, while making you question the often taboo subjects. Adam mastered the art of perfection in his images of imperfection. Just when you grasped the message behind the image or piece, so many more other perceptions came to mind.

A show recommended for anyone with any taste in art. A must see from an artist that is one to watch out for.

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