Gagosian has taken on the global representation of Derrick Adams, one of today’s most beloved artists. Adams will have his first show with Gagosian at the gallery’s location in Beverly Hills, California, in September.
Adams, who works in mediums such as painting, sculpture, collage, performance, video, and public art, is best known for his canvases depicting scenes of Black joy, leisure, and beauty, all done in a distinctive style in which his subjects’ faces are formed via angular and geometric shapes.
His series include “Floaters” (featuring people having fun in a pool), “Style Variations” (depicting Black mannequin busts that are given distinctive hairstyles), and his most recent body of work, “Motion Picture Paintings” (densely populated scenes that collapse multiple shots from movies made in the artist’s imagination).
“I’m particularly interested in the way that Derrick approaches representations of Black life, thinking about it in relationship to the culture in a way that is expansive,” Antwaun Sargent, a director at Gagosian, told ARTnews in an interview. “In a Derrick Adams painting, you have any number of references to Black history, Black contemporary life, mundane Black life, but also things like cinema, fashion, and other artists. There’s this real sense of joy. In Derrick’s hands, that’s something that is particularly fresh and original in the way that he explores these different ideas and concepts surrounding Black life.”
Adams’s upcoming Gagosian exhibition, his first solo in Los Angeles since 2017, will present new work that “continues the themes of beauty, joy, and Black history and celebration that Derrick has become known for—all the things that have become signature Derrick Adams,” Sargent said.
Adams is currently the subject of a solo show at the Flag Art Foundation in New York, and he has a major public installation, The City Is My Refuge, on view at Penn Station until June. He recently had surveys at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Hudson River Museum, as well as a site-specific installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a 93-foot-mural commissioned by Milwaukee Art Museum.
He is currently at work on a major installation that will be included in the forthcoming exhibition “Beyond Granite” that will go on view on the National Mall in Washington, DC, this summer, as well as a piece that will be displayed by Art on theMART in Chicago in April. His work is held in the collections of major art institutions, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, which awarded him its Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize in 2016.
Speaking on Adams’s seeming omnipresence in museums and public spaces, Sargent said, “Those are the types of artists we represent,” adding that his addition to Gagosian’s roster is “a natural fit.”
Beyond his exhibitions in galleries and museums, Adams also recently established the Last Resort Artist Retreat in his native Baltimore as well as an archive project called the Black Baltimore Digital Database, which is collecting the stories of cultural contributions by historical and contemporary Black Baltimoreans.
Sargent added, “Derrick has always been someone that’s been engaged in the art community, and I am excited for him join the gallery because his mission and his vision is something that we don’t shy away from and that we want to encourage and enhance as a gallery artist.”