Know your artist: Igshaan Adams

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Explore! Awesome South African Artistsby Cobi Labuschagne
Jacana Media
Recommended selling price R195
Releases in September

Explore! Awesome South African Artists is an upcoming book that does just what it says – profiles our local visual artists. With punchy write-ups accompanied by beautiful illustrations, it’s the perfect 101 guide on our country’s artistic landscape. #Trending is running extracts. Here is the second, on Igshaan Adams:

Competition between siblings or friends can be the inspiration for finding something that you’re really good at. When he was growing up, Igshaan Adams felt that his brother was good at everything. He was cool, popular and got into local newspapers for his BMX tricks. So when Igshaan found out that he was good at drawing and at school, he tried extra hard to stand out.

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Illustration: Lauren Mulligan

His father used to make pen line drawings and to Igshaan it looked like magic happening. His aunts made things in creative ways, like turning a pillowcase into a lampshade or using plants to decorate church posters. In his own artworks, he uses materials that are at hand and not expensive, like paper or cloth.

Igshaan went to the College of Cape Town, and learnt how to paint and draw. But he was extremely shy and didn’t feel good about himself. Some of these feelings came from difficulties that he faced while growing up. He needed to earn money, but started just drifting around.

A few years later, he went to a holiday school art workshop. The teachers at the art school thought his work was so good they gave him a scholarship to study art there. As soon as he got this opportunity he started only making art. It wasn’t long before he won prizes and important galleries started exhibiting his work.

Igshaan wanted to use art to understand who he was, work through the many difficulties he had experienced and heal the relationships with his close family. He did art performances with his grandmother, who had raised him, and his sister, brother and father. After the performances many of the viewers feel moved and come to talk to him about their own lives. Igshaan believes that art helps you know yourself better and can bring a person peace. He thinks everyone should draw or paint even if they don’t think they are talented. The important thing is the process of art.

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