Through geometric color blocks, artist Derrick Adams celebrates the joy of self-expression

Art

#acrylic #graphite #hair #paint #wigs

April 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Style Variation 35” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters. All images © Derrick Adams, courtesy Salon 94, New York

In Regards, artist Derrick Adams refers to the immense potential of a wig to alter an appearance and build a character. The exhibition, which is on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art until May 29, alongside a survey of art and fashion photography titled The New Black Vanguard (opens May 8), shows nine of Adam’s portraits rendered in the artist’s distinct geometric style evoking “Beninese heads, Kwele masks, Kota reliquary figures” and other masks and sculptures from Africa West,” he said in a statement.

Measuring over eight feet tall, the acrylic and graphite works focus on straight-looking busts, their faces mapped with varying skin tones and makeup lining the eyelids and rounded lips. The elaborate wigs in rainbow stripes and faded ombre draw inspiration from the salons and boutiques of Brooklyn’s Adams neighborhood. He reinterprets these functional garments as bold, two-dimensional portraits that speak to the importance of hair in black culture and the power to define oneself through dramatic and joyful adornment. He explains the work:

I think more than ever that it’s essential for artists to make work that celebrates black culture. As a black man, I am aware of my vulnerability and sensitivity to trauma and oppression on a daily basis. Personally, I don’t need to be reminded of this in art and instead choose to highlight black normalcy. Those who participate in black culture understand that there are images that are less important to us than images of joy.

For more of Adams’ works through painting, sculpture, collage, and performance, visit his site and Instagram.

“Style Variation 33” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters

“Style Variation 34” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters

“Style Variation 37” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters

“Style Variation 28” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters

“Style Variation 32” (2020), acrylic and graphite paint on digital inkjet photography, 245.1 x 153 x 4.4 centimeters

#acrylic #graphite #hair #paint #wigs

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