Igshaan Adams: Al Latîf

blank, Cape Town, South Africa
27 Jan 2018 - 10 Mar 2018

Detail of the artist's studio, 2018

Detail of the artist's studio, 2018

blank announces Al Latîf, a solo exhibition by Igshaan Adams.

In Al Latîf, Adams presents new configurations of process and material in a series of wall- and floor-based installations and tapestries, working both within his established vocabulary of abstraction as well as modes of representation found in his earlier practice.

The premise for the exhibition developed from the artist’s contemplation of the metaphysical questions of mysticism; concepts of the “unknowable”, and the notion that there is no singular, inherent truth to existence. Taken as a lens through which to read Adams’ latest body of work, the show’s title demonstrates the rootedness of the exhibition in the artist’s faith and interest in Sufism. Translated to mean “The Subtle One”, Al Latîf is one of the ninety-nine names attributed to God (Allah) and is used to describe qualities of refinement, subtlety and delicacy of expression and perception.

Apparent in a number of the works is the use of symbolic devices such as those present in some of Adams’ earlier works. The image of a rose is found in the focal piece of the exhibition, a large-scale floor-based installation made of multi-coloured glass and plastic beads. Here, the rose with its layers of petals among thorns acts as a symbol for the many veils that, according to Islam, separate us from true reality, while the potential for new life is contained within the enveloped seeds. In Adams’ depiction, the rose serves doubly as a visual metaphor for the universe, resembling a vortex-like image of celestial space.

In his more abstract, woven works, Adams revisits some of the processes from his previous exhibition, Oorskot. Mimicking organic, plant-like structures, these wall-based sculptures are caught in an ambiguous state of suspension between life and death, creation or decay. The theme of nature and the dynamic environment is carried through in his series of large tapestries that are woven in undulating waves of various blue and green synthetic materials, recalling sea- or landscapes respectively. This impression of movement is communicated through Adams’ use of texture and composition, and is integral to the overall sensorial experience of the exhibition. In accordance with Sufi beliefs, there is an attempt to align one’s body with the rhythm of the universe through the subtle, gentle movements that form part of meditational prayer, and it is this quality of movement that he seeks to evoke in his works.

Lord, I am the weaver of Thy Name;
I weave and reap the profit
Of inner rapport of thee.
   I weave the cloth of Thy Name, O Lord.
I have firmly strung my loom
With ten hundred threads;
The sun and moon
I hold as my witness.
Endlessly I count Thy Name
And take it as my wages;
I gently deposit it
Within the lotus of my heart.
   I am the weaver of Thy Name.
Surat and nirat are the two pegs
That hold the frame of my loom;
Thus I weave with care and discernment
The cloth of Thy Name.

– extract from a poem by the 15th century mystic, Kabir.


Opening preview 11am, Saturday 27 January




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 that will be launched at the National Arts Festival in June before traveling to institutions nationwide.

Born in 1982, Adams lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.




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