In early 2014, Adria Arch spent several weeks in residency at the Sanskriti Foundation in Delhi, India. Among the myriad sights,sounds and colors, she discovered Indias rich tradition of shadow puppets, an ancient art form and vehicle for the transmittal of culture. Formed of painted leather and cut into elaborate figures representing Hindu gods, goddesses and animals, the intricate shapes and translucent color resonated with Arch, leading her to use the puppets as a point of departure. Her process begins with pouring skeins of fluid polymer and pigment onto thin plastic sheets. The paint congeals on the smooth surface in amorphous gradient fields of color, somewhat like the gradual spread of lichen across bare rock. Following the contour of the decanted paint, Arch responds to the found shapes with scissors, layering and composing these skins into pictures with delicate precision. The high key color and bold shapes reference both 1960s pop and contemporary street art.
The forms she discovers throughout this process briefly coalesce into monsters and cartoons, seahorses and all manner of chimera, only to dissolve again into pigment, binder and surface. Yet some of the strongest images make no reference at all to objectivity. There is a sensuous strength of composition and color choice in a piece such as Turn (2014), with its twisting forms diagonally arching across the surface, curving into an aquamarine puddle of flat color. In this curiously beautiful liquid language, Adria Arch moves the viewer with the rock and sway of color and shape, grounded on bound pigment adhered to paper and board.
Deborah Santoro Gallery Coordinator University Gallery, UMASS Lowell