Creative Feel - - CONTENTS -

While you’re down­town in New­town and look­ing at in­vest­ing in young artists, do your­self a favour and go across to the Stan­dard Bank Gallery, which will be show­ing When Dust Set­tles, the much-an­tic­i­pated solo ex­hi­bi­tion by Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Igshaan Adams, from 16 July to 15 Septem­ber.

Speak­ing of in­vest­ing in young artists, do your­self a favour and go to the Stan­dard Bank Gallery, which will be show­ing When Dust Set­tles, the muchan­tic­i­pated solo ex­hi­bi­tion by Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Igshaan Adams, from 27 July to 15 Septem­ber.

Igshaan Adams was born in 1982 in Cape Town, South Africa. Com­bin­ing as­pects of per­for­mance, weav­ing, sculp­ture and in­stal­la­tion that draw upon his up­bring­ing, his cross-dis­ci­plinary prac­tice is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hy­brid iden­tity, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to race and sex­u­al­ity. Raised by Chris­tian grand­par­ents in a com­mu­nity racially clas­si­fied as ‘coloured’ un­der apartheid leg­is­la­ture, he is an ob­ser­vant but lib­eral Mus­lim who oc­cu­pies a pre­car­i­ous place in his re­li­gious com­mu­nity be­cause of his ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. As such, the quiet ac­tivism of Adams’ work speaks to his ex­pe­ri­ences of racial, re­li­gious and sex­ual lim­i­nal­ity, while break­ing with the strong rep­re­sen­ta­tional con­ven­tion found in re­cent South African art. He uses the ma­te­rial and for­mal icono­gra­phies of Is­lam and ‘coloured’ cul­ture to de­velop a more equiv­o­cal, phe­nomeno­log­i­cal ap­proach to­wards these con­cerns and of­fer a novel, af­fec­tive view of cul­tural hy­brid­ity.

Adams states: ‘I am con­cerned with my two en­vi­ron­ments: the in­ter­nal and the ex­ter­nal; and the con­stant ex­change of in­for­ma­tion be­tween the two. As I project my­self onto the world, so too do I in­ter­nalise the world’s pro­jec­tions onto me. Ini­tially, I grap­pled with de­con­struct­ing my hy­brid iden­tity, fo­cus­ing on my mul­ti­cul­tural, re­li­gious and sex­ual iden­ti­ties in re­la­tion

to the do­mes­tic and po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ments in which they were formed, hop­ing to un­der­stand the con­flict I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. My fo­cus has since shifted to want­ing to know more about the self from a mul­ti­di­men­sional, univer­sal and mys­ti­cal po­si­tion. Do­ing and un­do­ing, push­ing and pulling, em­ploy­ing re­straint while at the same time be­ing open to dis­cov­er­ing new el­e­ments of beauty through play­ful ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, all of this al­lows me as the artist to insert my per­sonal in­quiry into the work. My aim has al­ways been to ques­tion and chal­lenge bound­aries in a sen­si­tive way.’

Adams is the 2018 win­ner of the Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award for Vis­ual Art. Pre­sented an­nu­ally, the pres­ti­gious award cul­mi­nates in a solo pre­sen­ta­tion of the re­cip­i­ent’s work, launched at the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val

(NAF) in June be­fore trav­el­ling to in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­wide. Fol­low­ing its re­cent pre­miere at NAF, Adams’ When Dust Set­tles will con­duct a na­tion­wide tour of mu­se­ums and in­sti­tu­tions across seven cities.

Draw­ing upon the ma­te­rial and for­mal icono­gra­phies of Is­lam and coloured cul­ture, Adams’ cross-dis­ci­plinary prac­tice is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hy­brid iden­tity and lim­i­nal­ity, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to race, re­li­gion, and sex­u­al­ity.

For When Dust Set­tles, Adams presents an eclec­tic and multi-sen­sory large-scale in­stal­la­tion, bring­ing to­gether as­pects of sculp­ture, tex­tiles, found ob­jects, fur­ni­ture and per­for­mance to cre­ate an im­mer­sive en­vi­ron­ment.

‘I have al­ways taken a per­sonal ap­proach to mak­ing my work,’ says Adams. ‘As soon as I’m done, I de­tach my­self com­pletely. For me, it’s the process of mak­ing the work that be­comes mean­ing­ful. I get to un­der­stand these con­flict­ing as­pects of my­self.’

Re­vis­it­ing ear­lier bod­ies of work, the pre­sen­ta­tion will draw in­spi­ra­tion from con­cep­tual themes, artis­tic pro­cesses and ma­te­ri­al­i­ties dat­ing back sev­eral years to in­ves­ti­gate the evo­lu­tion of ideas within the artist’s prac­tice. For Adams, the in­trigue lies in the ques­tions un­der­pin­ning it: How have his per­sonal views and ob­jec­tives shifted? How has the artist’s lan­guage evolved? What was over­looked the first time?

Pre­vi­ous ex­hi­bi­tions were pre­oc­cu­pied with the do­mes­tic en­vi­ron­ment, specif­i­cally that of his up­bring­ing in Bon­te­heuwel on the Cape Flats. This ear­lier pe­riod in Adams’ art-mak­ing is ex­em­pli­fied by his use of found ob­jects, the marks left be­hind on their sur­faces sug­gest­ing the phys­i­cal space as a man­i­fes­ta­tion or re­flec­tion of our in­ter­nal spa­ces.

Later, in 2012, Adams’ work shifted to ex­plore ideas around sex­u­al­ity, and the chal­lenges of rec­on­cil­ing his own ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity with the Is­lamic faith. It was also at this time that Adams fur­thered his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into tex­tile craft, em­ploy­ing string cur­tains in sculp­tural in­stal­la­tions along with other re­li­gious para­pher­na­lia and do­mes­tic items associated with Cape Malay cul­ture.

Adams first fell in love with tex­tiles while mak­ing ‘thread-based works dur­ing my time at Ruth Prowse School of Art. I think my sen­sual na­ture re­sponded strongly to the tac­til­ity of em­broi­der­ing with cot­ton onto the felt blan­ket. Phys­i­cally I some­how felt more in­volved in the process and I could fully im­merse my­self in it, while the fab­rics them­selves felt im­bued with mean­ing.’

His in­ter­est in tex­tiles de­vel­oped into the weav­ing of ta­pes­tries out of re­cy­cled ny­lon rope and rags, in de­signs that of­ten in­cor­po­rated Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy to ref­er­ence surahs (chap­ters) from the Qu­ran. These ta­pes­tries, now syn­ony­mous with Adams’ oeu­vre, were first ex­hib­ited on the ex­hi­bi­tion Parda in 2015.

In a sense, When Dust Set­tles serves to insert chap­ters into ex­ist­ing bod­ies of work, re-ex­am­in­ing those con­cerns that have in­formed Adams’s prac­tice for al­most a decade.

‘The Stan­dard Bank Award has cer­tainly prompted a pe­riod of stock­tak­ing – I have had to ab­sorb ev­ery­thing that I have cre­ated up un­til this point, my en­tire con­tri­bu­tion as an artist, and this process has left me feel­ing at ease and pos­i­tive about the fu­ture,’ says Adams. ‘While an award of this na­ture cer­tainly gains recog­ni­tion for the artist, you can­not rely on this recog­ni­tion alone, and I wouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate cu­ra­tors or col­lec­tors and their abil­ity to see through it. As an artist, you can’t make work to get rich or fa­mous. I make what I feel com­pelled to make, for me cre­ativ­ity re­mains a sa­cred force that re­sponds to hon­esty.’

To date, Adams has held eight solo ex­hi­bi­tions at blank projects (Cape Town), A Tale of a Tub (Rot­ter­dam), Rong­wrong Gallery (Am­s­ter­dam), Steven­son Gallery (Cape Town) and AVA Gallery (Cape Town). He has also par­tic­i­pated in nu­mer­ous group shows, both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing Les jour qui vient (2017) cu­rated by Marie Ann Yemsi at the Ga­lerie des Ga­leries in Paris, Sacre du Prin­temps (2015) cu­rated by AA Bron­son at the Grazer Kun­stverein in Graz and Bar­ri­ers (2015) at the Wanås Foun­da­tion in Knis­linge, Swe­den. Adams has been se­lected for a num­ber of artist res­i­den­cies, among them the Som­mer­akademie im Zen­trum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzer­land and the IAAB/Pro Hel­ve­tia res­i­dency, Basel, Switzer­land. Adams lives and works in Cape Town.

Bent, Igshaan Adams, 2018. Mild steel, wire, rope, cot­ton of­f­cuts, twine and beads

Vlag­gies, Igshaan Adams, 2018. Wo­ven ny­lon rope, string and wire.

Un­ti­tled, Igshaan Adams

Un­ti­tled, Igshaan Adams

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