Lisa Adams, Sparrow 2009

Artist: Lisa Adams 1969-

Title: Sparrow

Date: 2009

Medium: oil on canvas (65 x 75cm)

The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia

EMu user since 2005



Lisa Adams, Sparrow 2009Lisa Adams’s paintings have been noted for their links to Surrealism, a connection the artist concedes but is “not particularly comfortable with”1. A more apt point of reference might be to the work of the photorealist painters who, in the 1960s and 1970s, conscripted photographs as the basis for their work. Adams’s meticulous paintings are months in the making and crafted from multiple sources, many of them photographs taken by her or her husband, photographer Kim Guthrie. The paintings that  emerge through her methodical processes are more than the sum of their parts. They are magical incarnations of Adams’s encounters with her world, which revolves around the Noosa hinterland where she lives.

Adams’s work is frequently self-referential and reflects the contradictions and incongruities she finds in life. Sparrow 2009 encapsulates these concerns and is a metaphor for the battles she encounters in making her work: “Painting comes with its problems but for me they are personal problems. My paintings never come easily... every day I’ve come to realise the endurance required to keep going”2. The camouflage print on Adams’s dress speaks to the iconography of combat, which is reinforced by the references to the ancient hunting sport of falconry. The viewer is struck by Adams’s ambivalence towards the gauntlet she wears – the term has an alternate meaning associated with punishment and fortitude – and by the improbability of the sparrow that is tethered to her fulfilling its role as a bird of prey. The enormity of the bird’s enterprise equates with the one Adams sets for herself as a highly realist representational painter. Clearly she is up to the task.

Samantha Littley
Acting Art Museum Curator
The University of Queensland Art Museum

1. Lisa Adams in Ingrid Periz, ‘Lisa Adams: Outside in’, Australian Art Collector, issue 48, April-June 2009, www.artcollector.net.au/LisaAdamsOutsideIn.

2. Ibid.

Acknowledgements: Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2010
Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
Photographer: Carl Warner