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b. 1979, Canada

Brent Wadden Biography

Brent Wadden is a Canadian artist based intermittently between Vancouver and Berlin. In 2003 he graduated with a BFA from his hometown's Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. That same year he had his first solo show at Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax. Since then the artist has exhibited in Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto, Brussels, London, New York and Paris. His works blur the boundaries between craft and fine art, marrying hard-edged geometric abstraction with folkish textile art. Through the process and the final product Wadden seeks to establish a dialogue between hand-craft processes and the history of Modernist painting.

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Wadden's process is a distinctive and fundamental aspect of his work. He rejects the impatience of modern Western society and consumerist notions of cheap and instant means of gratification in art. Instead, the artist labouriously hand-weaves textiles from various natural and synthetic fibres—typically wool, cotton and acrylic—obtained from mostly second-hand sources such as other weavers, second-hand shops, estate sales and online sites like eBay. These materials are combined to create highly textured components that are patched together on a large canvas to form various abstract geometric grid patterns.

Wadden's work was salient in the 2014 group exhibition Mingei: Are You Here?, curated by Nicolas Trembley at Pace Gallery, New York (first shown at Pace London). The exhibition examined historical works from the Mingei folk craft movement of 1920s post-industrialised Japan alongside modern and contemporary artists including Bauhaus artist Anni Albers.

The composition of Wadden's works typically follows in the footsteps of early- to mid-century Modernism, particularly Abstract Expressionism and Op art; hard-edged, abstract geometric patterns create a shifting sense of positive and negative space through the contrasting areas of light and dark. In the 'Alignment' series (2013–2014) this was done with simple contrasts of black and white, but with works such as those in the 'TBT' series (2014) the artist began experimenting with different colour variations though remaining tight in monochromatic form. Unlike painting, however, the composition of the assemblage was only determined in the final stages of preparation.

Errors of alignment where shapes warp or do not quite meet their counterparts, plus inconsistencies of shape, line, texture and tone, and various other flaws can be found in most of Wadden's works. They are a natural part of the process, especially as the artist is not a formally trained weaver—a major element that distinguishes him from Albers. Wadden, however, accepts these flaws as an abstract painter would accept accidental drips. He even changes looms every so often to ensure he never gets too skilled. The flaws not only draw greater attention to the process but are crucial to the dialogue between hand-crafts and Modernist painting.

For the most-part Wadden's works do not actually involve paint. Yet texturally—through the flaws and the nature of the woven materials, particularly wool—they possess the character of a painterly surface, melding the aesthetics—and by association, status—of hand-made textile crafts and abstract painting. This melding is taken further in several works from 2012 named Untitled, where Wadden actually applies oil paint onto linen in a series of multi-coloured triangular patterns.

Wadden continues to develop this visual repertoire. In more recent works, such as 3 Pink Bars (2015), GGBB (2016) and Untitled (2016), the lines have become straighter and the colour contrasts sharper, with more vivid combinations, such as tonal variations of red and blue, or green, brown and black, introduced. His rigorous commitment to abstraction and the grid remains a constant across all his work.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017

Exhibition view: Brent Wadden, Take What You Need, Pace Gallery, Geneva (26 March–15 May 2021). © Brent Wadden. Courtesy Pace Gallery and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Annik Wetter.

Brent Wadden Featured Artworks

View All (37)
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2020Hand woven fibres, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas
168 x 142 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2020Hand woven fibres, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas
119 x 124 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2019Hand woven fibres, wool, cotton, acrylic on canvas
230 x 152 x 3 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2019Hand woven fibres, wool, cotton, acrylic on canvas
230 x 141 x 3 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2018Handwoven fibres, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas
116 x 105 x 4 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2017 Pace Gallery
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2017Painting - Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas
92 x 87 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire
Untitled by Brent Wadden contemporary artwork
Brent WaddenUntitled, 2017Painting - Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas
92 x 78 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire

Brent Wadden Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (7)
Contemporary art exhibition, Brent Wadden, Take What You Need at Pace Gallery, Geneva
Open Now
26 March–15 May 2021 Brent Wadden Take What You Need Pace GalleryGeneva
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Selections at Almine Rech, Online Only, Brussels
Closed
11–22 May 2020 Group Exhibition Selections Almine RechOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Brent Wadden, Banks / Bars at Almine Rech, Brussels
Closed
24 April–22 May 2019 Brent Wadden Banks / Bars Almine RechBrussels

Brent Wadden Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Aspen, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Shanghai
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery Seoul, New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Beijing
PKM Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea PKM Gallery Seoul

Brent Wadden In Ocula Magazine

Frieze Viewing Room: Five Artwork Highlights Ocula Insight Frieze Viewing Room: Five Artwork Highlights By Ocula Advisory, New York

Ocula's Advisory team review the highlights in Frieze Viewing Room.

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Brent Wadden In Related Press

Abstraction a Foot Ahead: Interview with Brent Wadden Related Press Abstraction a Foot Ahead: Interview with Brent Wadden 17 June 2015, Randian

Brent Wadden (b. 1979, Canada) has just completed his first major solo exhibition in New York at Mitchell-Innes and Nash. The show presented 8 large-scale woven works. Having trained as a painter, Wadden (working between studios in Vancouver and Berlin) is now focused on weaving, using brightly colored yarns to create dense, abstract pieces which...

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Looming Large Related Press Looming Large 4 May 2015, 1stdibs

The work of Canadian artist Brent Wadden defies classification. His abstractions borrow from diverse traditions and techniques, drawing elements of folk art, Art Brut, Abstract Expressionism, minimalism and Bauhaus design into vibrant compositions that are shaped as much by their quirks and eccentricities as by their formal harmony. Although he...

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