Derrick Adams is simply in a league of his own. If you haven’t seen his singular style in person, then “I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You” is the perfect introduction. And for those of you who are longtime fans like myself, the show offers a thrilling theatrical side of the artist in a sweeping, painterly portrayal of his talent. The FLAG Art Foundation has gathered 16 monumental works from Adams's “Motion Picture Paintings” series that celebrate Black joy and contemporary leisure in a way that no other artist does today. It’s currently a dreary stretch of winter here in New York, and his jubilant world is a welcome respite. Adams is often described as a kind of 21st century Cubist portraitist, and that historical precedent surely resonates. But, what strands out here is his deliberate blend of lyrical text, collaged layers, mosaic elements, and humorist motifs, like the floating zzzz’s in All With A Soft Touch, 2021, and love-bird pigeons in JUST, 2022—all of which proves to me that Adams is just getting started.
“I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You” by Derrick Adams is on view through March 11, 2023 at FLAG Art Foundation in New York.