"Norman Adams who died in 2005, at the age of 78, was one of the most significant artists this country has produced over the last half-century. A pictorial and profoundly visionary Romantic thinker in the direct line of Blake and Palmer, Stanley Spencer and Paul Nash, he forged a visual language of intense power and originality, entirely contemporary in character.” Nicholas Usherwood
Norman Adams painted delicate watercolours, usually outside in all weathers after a period closely observing nature. In the studio he worked on large scale oils, the starting point of which was often one of the watercolours. But even a work which reflected a landscape had as a starting point a ‘moralistic idea’ and there was always a unity between form and content. Another central concern was colour: ‘Painting is the only art form which has significant colour and with colour I try to reach intangible things.....it is the most emotive and powerful force the painter has to handle and be inventive with. In spite of this my paintings are not about colour...I try to make them tell an everyman story: a journey from birth to death seen from a personal point of view. The thorough integration of the forces of the medium - pigment, texture, light, colour - and the forces of Nature - emotion, drama, the joy and the sorrow and to find precise equivalents in the former for aspects of the latter has been a major task.’
‘ Within the temporary structure of the world - the world of rain, snow and sunshine, of trains, buses and advertisements - is the world of the mind, of the imagination. Here exist the forces which are fundamental and eternal. Here there are storms of cosmic violence and calms of a universal stillness. Here we can be frightened to stupefaction, but here also we can find our heart’s desire. In such a world we can converse with trees and be truly one with nature. We sprout branches and trees take on human forms, and we recognize our similarities.’ Norman Adams, 1951.
Norman Adams studied at Harrow School of Art from 1940 to 1946 and subsequently at the Royal College of Art from 1948 to 1951. He was Head of Painting at Manchester College of Art from 1962 to 1970, visiting tutor at Leeds University from 1973 to 1976 and Professor of Painting at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1981 to 1986. He was elected Royal Academician in 1972 and Honorary Member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1987. He was elected Keeper of the Royal Academy in 1986 and upon retiring from this position after nine years, was appointed the Academy's Professor of Painting Emeritus. His first solo exhibition was held in 1952 at Gimpel Fils, London with subsequent regular shows held at Roland, Browse and Delbanco.