Igshaan Adams was born 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’s 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.
To date, Adams has held nine solo exhibitions at Akershus Kunstsenter (Oslo), 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 Mapping Black Identities (2019) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Matters of Concern (2019) at La Verrière in Brussels, Material Insanity (2019) at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden in Marrakech, In This Imperfect Present Moment (2018) at the Seattle Art Museum, and Ravelled Threads (2018) at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Adams has been selected for a number of artist residencies, among them the I.D.E.A. Residency Project in Milan, Italy, Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, and the IAAB / Pro Helvetia residency, Basel, Switzerland. In 2018, Adams was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art. Presented annually, the prestigious award culminates in a solo presentation of the recipient’s work, conducting a nationwide tour of museums and institutions. Adams lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.