Derrick Adams

Frieze New YorkRandall Island's Park
1 – 5 May 2019


Beauty World is a continuation of Adams’ Deconstruction Worker series (his ongoing body of work comprised of minimal geometric constructions of angular human figures, which serve as a comparative investigation into the physical construction of the figure).

The new works are large-scale acrylic works on paper of figures with various hairstyles and makeup painted on top of digital prints of a repeated image of a wig mannequin head. 

Inspired by the artist’s Brooklyn neighbourhood, Adams observes what is being offered in the display windows dominating the beauty storefronts typical in certain areas of most urban cities. Found there are beauty supply stores, wig shops, hair boutiques (selling just bundles of hair), braiding salons, nail salons and traditional salons. These establishments stand as a constant reminder of the many options for physical transformation.

The work explores black feminine empowerment, achieved through acts of versatility, camouflaging and costuming, associated with beautification and roleplaying in the public space. The work is meant to draw attention to specific social rituals - which never needed to be contextualised or understood, to be credible or worthy - to those who don’t participate. It is a celebration, highlighting the extraordinary effort of those who do take part in beautification - for any and all reasons. 

selected works

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2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8  x 111.8 cm cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation Grid 8

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8 x 111.8 cm  cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation Grid 5

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8 x 111.8 cm cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation Grid 7

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8  x 111.8 cm cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation Row 1

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 41.6 x 111.8 cm cm / 16 3/8 x 44 in

Style Variation 6

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 117.8 x 111.8 cm / 46 3/8 x 44 in

Style Variation 9

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8 x 111.8  cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation 7

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8  x 111.8 cm cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation 10

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8 x 111.8 cm  cm / 70 x 44 in

Style Variation 8

2019Acrylic paint and graphite on digital photograph inkjet on watercolor paper 177.8 x 111.8  cm / 70 x 44 in