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Austin’s West Chelsea Contemporary Unveils New Exhibition By Hip-Hop Visionary Cey Adams

This compilation entitled "Combinations" fuses his iconic mastery of graffiti, graphic design and fine art

Cey Adams exhibition: “Combinations” (photo courtesy of West Chelsea Contemporary)

West Chelsea Contemporary, the renowned art gallery in the vibrant heart of Austin, has unveiled an extraordinary exhibition that’s a visual and cultural feast for art enthusiasts and hip-hop aficionados. Titled “Combinations,” this solo presentation showcases the awe-inspiring works of New York-based artist Cey Adams, a legend in his own right. “Combinations” is not just an exhibition; it’s a reverent celebration of Adams’ illustrious 40-year career and the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop.

Cey Adams exhibition: “Combinations” (photo courtesy of West Chelsea Contemporary)

First solo exhibition at West Chelsea Contemporary

On view now through November 19, 2023, “Combinations” marks a monumental moment for West Chelsea Contemporary as it dedicates its expansive 7,500+ square-foot space to a single artist for the first time ever. This exhibition is Adams’ magnum opus, a testament to his extraordinary mastery of multiple art forms — including graffiti, street art, graphic design, painting and collage — seamlessly woven into a mesmerizing tapestry of visual storytelling.

“”Combinations revisits early ideas and various styles spanning over 40 years of my art-making career,” says Adams. “This current body of work reexamines societal and social structures in America that divide us. The primary goal of my art is to be a bridge that brings people closer together. Over the years, I’ve seen how graffiti, street art and Hip-Hop have created a unified movement with a lasting impact on popular culture.”

Cey Adams exhibition: “Combinations” (photo courtesy of West Chelsea Contemporary)

Inspiration from pop culture & collaboration with hip-hop artists

Indeed, Adams has played an instrumental role in shaping the visual language of Hip-Hop. As the founding Creative Director of Def Jam Recordings, he crafted album covers and logo designs for some of Hip-Hop’s most legendary figures, including Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige. His iconic designs helped define one of our time’s most influential cultural genres.

“Combinations” weaves intricate visual narratives that blend self-expression and storytelling with a historical perspective on American Pop Culture. Adams draws inspiration from the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, sign painting, comic books and, of course, the indomitable influence of Hip-Hop. His work challenges viewers to look beyond societal divisions while inspiring unity and uplifting those who engage with his art.

Each piece in the exhibition is a testament to Adams’ meticulous attention to detail, embodying his unique vision. His artistic practice involves deconstructing various imagery and paper elements to build multiple layers of color, texture, shapes, shadow and light.

One highlight of “Combinations” is the inclusion of new additions to the Trusted Brands series, where Adams celebrates the craftsmanship and graphic design of brand logos from the 1960s and 1970s. This collection features mixed media on panel, works on paper and sculptures that pay homage to the visual aesthetics of yesteryears. Additionally, the exhibition showcases a new LOVE series on Levi’s denim, a touching tribute to Levi’s, and a celebration of Adams’ enduring relationship with the brand, coinciding with the 150th Anniversary of the iconic 501 jeans.

Cey Adams exhibition: “Combinations” (photo courtesy of West Chelsea Contemporary)

Collaboration on limited edition prints

To add to the excitement, “Combinations” features legendary documentary photographers Martha Cooper and Janette Beckman, who have masterfully captured the spirit of Graffiti and Hip-Hop. Cey Adams collaborated with Cooper and Beckman to create limited edition prints, which were released alongside WCC Editions and master silkscreen printer Gary Lichtenstein. These prints offer a captivating glimpse into the evolution of Adams’ artistic journey.

West Chelsea Contemporary, more than just an art gallery, offers a dynamic and interactive space for art enthusiasts and collectors. With a mission to make art accessible to all, they produce museum-quality exhibitions year-round, free and open to the public. The gallery’s eclectic collection includes artists influential to Pop Art, Street Art, Graffiti, Post-Graffiti and contemporary art, fostering connections between emerging talents and Blue Chip masters.

“Combinations” is a testament to the enduring power of art, music, and culture. Adams’ remarkable journey, from the graffiti-covered streets of New York City to the world stage, inspires us all. His ability to bring diverse elements together and create harmony in a world often divided is a true testament to the unifying power of art. As the doors of West Chelsea Contemporary open to “Combinations,” we are invited to embark on a visual journey that transcends time, celebrates creativity and bridges the gaps that divide us.