John Adams wears his heart on his sleeve. This is not exactly what you would expect when you see him from a distance. If we just added a couple of tattoos and a few piercings, no one will blame you for picturing him in an EFC fighting ring, but instead you will find him working from his humble studio at home, with his three gorgeous boys playing just outside, where he can keep a watchful eye on them.
On the day Art-Movie-Book spent with him, John received some very sad news. We thought it best to leave, but instead he invited us in, pulled out his canvases and paints and started throwing some colour up in the air. This is not what I’m used to seeing from John, but on this occasion he had full permission to do exactly what his heart desired.
John grew up in a tumultuous time in South Africa, in a segregated area of Joburg called Bosmont. Here, protest art on the walls and bridges and the names and images of struggle heroes that would eventually change his life were imprinted on his teenage mind. After South Africa’s transition into our new democracy, John was accepted into the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg, and eventually Johannesburg Technikon, where he studied Industrial Design.
He often only uses his hands or otherwise less traditional tools to create the vibrant, colourful images of thoughts, ideas and icons that have influenced his life, manifest mostly through his current obsession with the landscape of portraiture, as he calls it. These images are also sometimes created as a performance piece in front of an audience. A total crowd pleaser!
John’s self-confessed dream in life is to be somebody who in some way or another contributes to the lives of others. This is evident in his continuous involvement with charity and community projects and this continuous giving recently came back to him in the most beautiful way. He unknowingly found one of his portraits hanging in the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund gallery. The curator had up until that moment not been able to trace the artist, as John had only signed the portrait with his initials. There he was, having honoured Madiba, one of the men who had fought for the freedom that enabled him to pursue a career as an artist, now being honoured with the privilege of being included in this collection. Full circle…