Initiated in 2020, the Motion Picture Paintings series depicts Adams’s family members, peers, acquaintances, and characters from everyday encounters in his signature Cubist style, characterized by color blocks and dimensionality. As an artist with an established and distinctive visual language, Adams has taken a more liberated approach with these new works, offering an expanded context to the narrative urban landscape that has dominated his oeuvre. With the Motion Picture Paintings, Adams beckons the viewer to see what he sees: Blackness in its marvelously varied forms of storytelling, positionality, and excellence, rather than in the burdensome stereotypes that have traditionally saturated the media.
The specific group of paintings exhibited in Hong Kong exists in the “Sweet Spot,” as they are distinguished and exceptional for the tender intimacy and emotional depths they impart. Their encompassing sentiment is felt in Sister Cousins (2022), in which two embracing women convey a powerful sense of reunion. The painting is based on a photograph of two family members whose relationship is most easily defined by a term familiar in Black community vernacular: “sister cousins.” Another double portrait Arting (2022) depicts acquaintances rather than family members. At a 2020 opening for a London exhibition of Adams’s work, the artist encountered two brilliantly dressed women, who possessed a particular refinement and stateliness one would come to know from Black elder sisters. Initially captured in separate photographs, the women appear in Arting side by side. When professor and cultural critic bell hooks died in late 2021, Adams instinctively added to the painting the phrase “Art on My Mind,” a nod to hooks’s significant volume of writings on art and visual culture, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics (1995). Adams says, “I wrote [the title] on the painting because I wanted to make a note to myself of a particular time. I made this painting to document that history.”