Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NEW YORK: Derrick Adams

Derrick Adams, Fun Fabulous Friends, 2014, Mixed media collage on paper, 48 x 72 inches. Image via

September 10 – October 18, 2014

Opening reception: Wednesday, September 10, 6pm – 8pm

8 East 76th Street
New York, NY

Tilton Gallery is pleased to present LIVE and IN COLOR, Derrick Adams' third solo exhibition at the gallery. A collection of faceted wood sculpture and large-scale mixed media collage, LIVE and IN COLOR captures the bold character-dramatizations of black figures in entertainment.

Stills and screen captures from sitcoms, music videos, news and stand-up are the point of departure for the work and are used mainly for reference and inspiration. Most are images taken from early TV sitcoms and serve as a study of role-playing, and to deconstruct and reassemble black archetypes in American culture. Exaggerated gestures and body language, interlaced with hard-edged blocks of color and patterns, provide the subject with heightened emotion and theatrical presence. Specifically, LIVE and IN COLOR speaks to the colorful, larger than life personalities of people of color as historically portrayed to the general public on national TV, and the exaggeration of their psychological attributes and mannerisms in popular culture.

To isolate and highlight the constructed image, the collages are viewed through portals made from corrugated paper covered with faux wood shelf liner to mimic vintage television sets. The palette running through the work is limited (with the addition of brown for the complexion of the figures) to those used in the test pattern created by the Society for Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE). This test pattern is abstracted to create an atmospheric space of vibrant patterns and geometric forms.

Adams' works have a pop-like simplicity of impact as clear lines and flat color define figurative imagery. Yet the underlying structure has a cubist complexity that he manipulates as he moves from one image to the next, from the two dimensional to the three dimensional. Instantly readable, yet slow to decipher, the formal aspects of Adams' art playfully speak to more serious subjects.

The early broadcast-industry promotional phrase, LIVE and IN COLOR, serves as the title for the show and, in this context, with all puns intended, refers to the intense levels of color used and the expressive gestures of the fractured, deconstructed figures illustrated. These anthropological dissections of pop culture explore their psychological states within the plane of absurd geometry.

Derrick Adams, born in 1970, is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, painting, sculpture and music. He received his BA from Pratt Institute and his MFA from Columbia University and is an alumnus of The Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. He has exhibited widely in New York, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Aspen, London and Paris. He has participated in Performa 05, and his work has been included in museum exhibitions at PS1/MoMA, New York (Greater New York, 2005); the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Grey Art Gallery, New York University and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, 2012-14); and on numerous occasions at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. He is a recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, 2009 and an Honored Finalist for the 2011 William H. Johnson prize.

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