16th Nov, 2023 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 50
Lot 50 - Igshaan  Adams (South Africa 1982-)


Igshaan Adams (South Africa 1982-)

woven nylon rope, beads and string

Artwork date: 2016
Exhibited: blank, Cape Town, 'Oorskot', 1 September to 8 October 2016.

Sold for R571,875
Estimated at R280,000 - R340,000


woven nylon rope, beads and string

Artwork date: 2016
Exhibited: blank, Cape Town, 'Oorskot', 1 September to 8 October 2016.


200 x 63 x 4 cm


Private collection, Cape Town.

blank, Cape Town.


Igshaan Adams has a tremendous gift for delicacy creating poetic, abstract works informed by social, political, and personal narratives.

Raised in Bonteheuwel, a former segregated township in Cape Town, South Africa, Adams uses materials found in that world, including wire, cotton twine, rope, plastic, beads, and shells to create intricate handwoven tapestries. As he is a practicing Muslim, the patterns in his labour intensive works take inspiration from prayer rugs and linoleum floors often found in the area he grew up in – evoking a sense of home and the faith he found there.

The works Ontbind and Verlossing were both included in Adams' 2016 solo, Oorskot at blank in Cape Town. While drawing on past concerns and methods the exhibition represented new strategies and ways of working for the artist.

Oorskot is an Afrikaans word that can refer to human remains but also to material remains – things left behind. It can have both positive and negative connotations; an abundant overflow or discarded residue.

In this body of work Adams made use of discarded excess materials. His pieces are usually made from waste and mass produced materials but here he pushed this a step further. He has, over the years, accumulated leftovers from previous projects in bags in his studio. Adams began to look through and use what he had accumulated, working with the ‘remnants of remnants’ to construct new work.

To add to this the artist had become frustrated with the square format he had been using to weave his carpets or tapestries. He notes that through the process of making he became aware of other possibilities.[1

In Ontbind and Verlossing – which roughly translate to disband or ‘a breaking apart’ and salvation or ‘to be released’ – rope spools towards the floor in a literal breaking loose from the confines of the square tapestry. Pulling the works in new directions and creating new forms, the ends of rope and string – unravelled and frayed – create rich and layered textures. In Verlossing single beads on lengths of wire, break free and tendril skywards. Formed from debris, Adams has created a kind of controlled chaos where his compelling works, while seemingly breaking apart, are full of sublime beauty.

[1] Film, Igshaan Adams. (2016). Yasmin Hankel for Social Fabric. [online].

https://artsandculture.google.com/story/oorskot-what-remains-social-fabric/ewVhxhLFPhdQJQ?hl=en l. (Accessed 27 October 2023)


  • The highest price achieved for the artist’s work at auction is $88 200 for, For Those Who Know, in New York in 2021.
  • Major institutional solo exhibitions include Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines (2022) at The Art Institute of Chicago, Kicking Dust (2021-2022) at Hayward Gallery in London and the Kunsthalle Zürich In Switzerland, Getuie (2020) at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, U.S.A, and Igshaan Adams: I Am No More (2019) at Akershus Kunstsenter in Norway.
  • In 2018, he was the recipient of the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art which culminated in the exhibition When Dust Settles which travelled throughout South Africa, including to the Iziko South African National Gallery.
  • Adams has been included in important biennales, including Choreographies of the Impossible, the São Paulo Biennale (2023), Awwal Bayt, the Islamic Arts Biennale (2023) in Jeddah, and The Milk of Dreams (2022) at the Venice Biennale.
  • Artist residencies include the Atelier residency at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, A4 Arts Foundation in Cape Town, the Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, and the IAAB Pro Helvetia residency in Basel.


The artist is represented in numerous local collections, notably, the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; The Art Institute of Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Minneapolis Institute of Art and the University of Cape Town Art Collection.

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