During the months of September and October the GEORGE ADAMS GALLERY will
present a survey exhibition of paintings by JAMES BARSNESS. The exhibition
includes 8 large-scale canvases ranging in date from 1996 to 2008.
Throughout his career, Barsness has consistently explored the complexities of human
interaction, exposed the frequent hypocrisies of social norms, the often farcical nature
of human “progress,” and our earnest search for religious enlightenment. For
example, the earliest work in the exhibition, “The Walled City,” 1996, represents
Barsness’ take on society as a dysfunctional construction seen through an art historical
scrim that quotes both Breughel and Bosch. The painting depicts the bizarre and often
chaotic goings-on within an imaginary medieval city’s walls; according to Barsness’
representation, life might be better – and safer –outside the walls rather than within.
In “The Prize,” 2002, Barsness offers a reconsideration of Jonathan Swift’s legendary
traveler, Gulliver, who appears as a Christ-like figure over whom the native
Lilliputians attempt to exert control with little success. A Christ figure appears yet
again in Barsness’ 2008 painting, “Weight Loss Jesus,“ in a classic Pieta: a beleaguered
Mary holds her decidedly pudgy and unmotivated Son as if to suggest that while
humanity struggles to survive, the One who might fix it all is more interested in the
bowl of popcorn in his lap.
The exhibitions of works by Barsness are on view through October 27th.
Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10AM to 6PM. For images and more
information on the exhibition, please visit the gallery’s website at