The Anni Albers retrospective at Tate Modern has sparked a series of weave related exhibitions in and around London.
Last month visitors enjoyed the final days of ‘You can go anywhere from anywhere’ at project78gallery, St Leonards on Sea. Working at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Connecticut in 2014, Ismini Samanidou and Simon Barker restored three looms that had been owned and used by Anni Albers. This exhibition presented the paper weaving, installation, sound and video works that Samanidou and Barker made during their stay in Connecticut and since, inspired by their encounter with Anni Albers through her archive.
In addition to this past project78gallery exhibition, Canadian artist Brent Wadden returns to Pace gallery in London to show new works in his ‘sympathetic resonance’ exhibition, open until 10 January 2019. Working on back-strap and floor looms, Wadden creates his large-scale work by weaving linear and abstract forms that he then stretches over raw canvas. He is influenced by folk and Bauhaus textiles, the language and techniques of traditional North American tapestry weaving, as well as painting movements such as Minimalism. The pieces balance full and empty spaces, throwing the distinction between high and low into flux and using technical mistakes to progress. Wadden’s works complicate hierarchies of media and disciplines, surfaces and textures with his own woven arrangements.
Nigel Prince, Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver commented: ‘Brent Wadden is resolutely an abstract painter. But then everything we view by him contradicts this first impression or in some way complicates our understanding of what it is we’re looking at. We apprehend the made qualities of the work itself; we recognise its materiality; we delight in its appearance. And yet Wadden investigates the potentials of these material and sensorial facts imbuing them with a contemporary relevance that stretches far beyond well-worn and overly familiar discussions.’
The new compositions reveal an intricate symmetry of arrangements, rare textures and interplay between materials such as acrylic, left-over cotton and wool. They are the result of a continued technical and compositional experimentation with weaving stripes and the inherent idea of infinity that they address. Focusing on a consistent colour scheme which goes through the entire body of work, Wadden’s concern with weave reveals the depth of Abstract Expressionism’s influence on his practice, recognising canvas not only as a support surface but one that has tactile qualities and complex intelligence.
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 work as accumulating the residual energy of his materials, his labour and the different categorical translations that happen as he transforms raw craft material into an art work. 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.
With regard to the art of weaving, these really are exciting times!