Brent Wadden (b. 1979, Nova Scotia, Canada) produces abstract woven works that bring together traditions of painting, design, craft, and folk art. Mounting his handwoven textiles on canvas, Wadden complicates notions of medium by transposing craft techniques into the realm of painting. Through warp and weft, Wadden’s practice embraces the variations and glitches that emerge through a process of repetition, revealing subtle disruptions in the accumulation of line, color, and form.
In January 2016, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton presented The Grey Area, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in North America. Among many monographic exhibitions, Wadden has had recent group exhibitions include Abstract America Today, Saatchi Gallery, London (2014); Be Mysterious, Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre (2014); Frauen, die Ausstellung, Autocenter, Berlin (2014); With Small Words, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna (2014); Geometry of Knowing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (2015); and Stitch, Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio (2017).
London—Pace London is delighted to present How Long is Now, Brent Wadden’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom. Presented on the first floor gallery of 6 Burlington Gardens, the exhibition will be on view from 25 September to 31 October 2015.
Working on backstrap and floor looms, Wadden creates his paintings by weaving geometric forms that he then stretches over raw canvas, accumulating individual fragments into complete works that balance positive and negative space, textures and the materiality of the canvas with the artist’s woven forms. Influenced by folk and Bauhaus textiles, the language and techniques of traditional North American tapestry weaving, as well as painting movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Wadden complicates hierarchies of media and disciplines with his work, throwing the distinction between high and low into flux.
“Brent Wadden’s works stretch and pull on opposing forces—at once material and conceptual, perceptual and logical. They yield tension.” T’ai Smith, 2015 essay, Stretching Painting: On Tension in the Work of Brent Wadden, Brent Wadden: About Time, Peres Projects, Almine Rech Gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Pace London 2015; page 9.
For his exhibition at Pace, the artist has created a new body of work for the gallery at 6 Burlington Gardens. The works initially appear as hard-edged, two-tone abstractions, but close inspection reveals an intricate matrix of colours and textures as well as interplay between the warp and weft of the canvas as well as that of the artist’s own weavings. These subtle variations stem from Wadden’s employment of new, second-hand and leftover fibres; as he exhausts one supply while working, he begins working with another of a different nature so his works become composed of an array of acrylic, cotton and wool.
Wadden’s attention to texture and weave reveals the depth of Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism’s influence on his practice, recognizing canvas not only as a support surface but one that has tactile qualities that affect the composition. His paintings embrace the warp and weft of the canvas’s threads, playing them against the surfaces he has woven himself.
“For me, my work is about patterning, and rhythm, and always making a mistake at some point throughout it. It’s not a mistake if you purposely do it, but there’s a rhythm that happens and there’s a format in which you think. There’s a formula that I’m using in each piece but there’s always a mistake that exists in the work, which I allow to happen.” - Brent Wadden in conversation with Nicolas Trembley, 2015.
Wadden’s turn toward labour-intensive methods and techniques situates him within a group of artists who have resisted technology in favour of more physical, craft-based media. He sees his paintings as accumulating the residual energy of his materials, his labour and the different categorical translations that happen as he transforms raw craft material into a painting. Rather than reject the distinctions between textile and painting, craft and fine art, he embraces each, weaving them into his own aesthetic that resists fixed boundaries between media.
Wadden’s first monograph, About Time, featuring essays by art historian T’ai Smith and curator Nicolas Trembley, is currently in production, with aims to be unveiled at Pace London this October.
Brent Wadden will be featured in the Camden Arts Centre Summer show: “Making & Unmaking” curated by the celebrated fashion designer Duro Olowu. Alongside sixty international artists showcasing in a range of media, the exhibition hosts work surrounding Antique West African textiles and Bauhaus tapestries. With the inclusion of contemporary works, including Wadden’s ‘Dreamin’ 2016 Diptych made of cloth, fibre and acrylic on canvas, the show’s collective harmony lies within a ‘process of p