Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to present Second Life, an exhibition of new works by Canadian-born artist Brent Wadden. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
Second Life features a series of colorful, large-scale woven panels created over the course of the last year on traditional floor looms with a mix of new and second-hand fibers. Drawing from a diverse range of influences, from the Quilts of Gee’s Bend to the precise geometric forms of Minimalism, Wadden’s labored work collapses the boundaries between physical process and aesthetic content.
The pliable surfaces of Wadden’s paintings are void of markings, figures or ground. However, they exude the painterly qualities of dimension, tactility and movement. Slight variations in the colors of thread break up monolithic forms into delicate tonal cascades not unlike those found in the paintings of his much-esteemed predecessors, like Josef Albers or Agnes Martin. Indeed, Wadden’s work extends from a lineage of art that places a certain value on the indexical imprint of the artist’s hand despite the nearly mechanical perfection it strives to achieve.
Trained as a painter, Wadden never received a formal education in weaving and picked up the practice in 2004 while living in Berlin. Over the past decade and a half, the artist has become increasingly skilled with the loom as the distinctively jagged yet elegant lines of his early Alignment series has given way to more linear yet technically intricate compositional schema—a gradual evolution that has seen the artist introduce and experiment with new colors, textures and geometries. Nevertheless, despite advanced planning, chance remains an enduring element in the artist’s chosen medium. The process of weaving, which unfolds slowly over time, necessitates improvisation and excludes the luxury of revision. The result is always a mix of calculation and serendipity.
Wadden’s deliberate use of the word “painting” to describe his woven works subtly hints at the aesthetic debates surrounding the hierarchy of art forms. He emphasizes the difficulty (and, perhaps, impossibility) of maintaining explicit distinctions between high art and craft—the cultural and the industrial—in a time where the qualities that define the privileged labor of the artist are no longer clear cut. Moreover, Wadden’s work disrupts the gender binaries that have persisted in a medium traditionally relegated to the domestic domain.