Derrick Adams: Interior Life, a kaleidoscopic exhibition that highlights colorful geometric portraits on paper from the Baltimore-born artist’s Deconstruction Worker series, was on view at Luxembourg & Dayan in New York City from February 26 to April 20, 2019.
Curated by Italian provocateur Francesco Bonami, the exhibited works use cartoonish interior scenes to explore the relationship between the intimate and the infinite, an effort inspired by the Catholic idea of living “a life that seeks God in everything.”
The portraits are installed on custom wallpapers that depict elevation views of imagined interior spaces created for a set of fictitious urbanites. Each installation takes up the entirety of a gallery wall and includes several portraits surrounded by matching interior scenes that are neatly organized. Here, the artist, in arranging color-blocked portraits with lived-in interior spaces, hints that our homes—and our stuff—can take on lives of their own.
A brooding interiority results as everyday elements and formal portraits imply a delicate tension among the polished image, the imperfect soul, and a world full of material belongings.
Blond plywood cabinets and a blue glass tile backsplash ground one playful and contemporary portrait arrangement, for example. In another view, a trio of portraits hang formally above a living room mantle, anchoring a warm room studded with African sculptures, tribal mask–print sofas, and floral-print curtains. In another, a formal scene depicting a bedroom is filled with bright red, paneled surfaces and a pair of solemn portraits that face one another without smiling.
In our contemporary world, where the illusion of infinite choice exists to dull the sting of economic precariousness, Adams makes clear a simple truth: We are what we own.
Header image: Artist Derrick Adams has created a series of interior snapshots with framed portraits fashioned from reconfigured patterns and color blocks that question the materiality and life force behind people and their possessions. (Courtesy Derrick Adams/Luxembourg & Dayan)