Terry Adkins

May 16 - July 6, 2024
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It is with great honour that Galerie Greta Meert presents the first solo exhibition by Terry Adkins in Brussels, Zürich.

Terry Adkins (1953-2014) was a visionary American artist whose career spanned four decades and within it developed a multifaceted practice integrating sculpture, live music, spoken word and video. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Adkins’ evolution as an artist was marked by a relentless pursuit of innovation in all fields, had a deep commitment to history and culture, and a dedication to challenging the boundaries of artistic expression.

The artist’s career began with a foundation in music. He studied classical music and performed as a saxophonist, experiences that would profoundly influence his later practice. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts (printmaking) from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, Adkins studied art at Illinois State University and the University of Kentucky, where he honed his skills as a sculptor and conceptual artist.

The title of this exhibition puts the focus on his stay in Zurich, Switzerland in the latter part of the 1980s. The ensemble presents itself as a blueprint of how this period witness his work’s development in terms of technique and scale, but also, as a person and an artist with an African-American identity, how he saw his own position within the artistic landscape. As a matter of principle, he maintained wary of facile and lazy expectations and assumptions others might have of him, both towards his own artistic position and within a broader historical and societal framework, such as for example the African diaspora. In doing so, he fuelled his radical avoidance of banalities in any form.

The bulk of the works included in this exhibition were previously shown in this period. Using a residency at Project Binz39 (1986) as a base, he showed a radically new form of small-scale sculpture, followed by nowlegendary junctures at Galerie Emmerich-Baumann (1987) and Galerie Andy Jllien (1989), all in Zurich.