Born in 1984, a research on language that synthesizes different styles, means and disciplines: Adam Pendleton is a conceptual artist from New York, twice included in Forbes Magazine‘s 30 Under 30 list. We find him in the collections of the Tate in London, the MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, with works that combine painting, screen printing, collage, video and performance in experimental and meaningful works. On the borderline between image and representation, long strokes of spray paint play on the perception of figures, without ever abstracting from reality, from our past and contemporary history. His is a cultural reflection before artistic, as in the works on Black Lives Matter where “The novelty is in the language, which is at the same time a public mourning, a battle cry and a poetic appeal”.
In 2011 the artist composed Black Dada Reader, a collection of photocopies, collages and statements assembled together for personal purposes, then distributed informally among friends and colleagues. The text is described by Pendleton as a “radical juxtaposition” and sees the names of Hugo Ball, W.E.B. Du Bois, Adrian Piper, Gertrude Stein, Sun Ra, Stokely Carmichael, Gilles Deleuze appear in an unexpected mix. The artist speaks to us through fragments of images and words taken from his personal library, side by side in the new practice of Black Dada.
Black assumes for Adam Pendleton an “open meaning” while Dada refers to the freedom of his works, inspired by the absurd works of the Avant-garde that gave an artistic response to history, challenging society. The anthology that conceptualized the poetics of Black Dada is now enriched with a second text. Ten years later, the artist again juxtaposes writers, artists, filmmakers, philosophers and critics to draw contemporary guidelines. The collection Pasts, Futures, and Aftermaths includes, among others, the writings of Sara Ahmed, Clarice Lispector and Malcolm X in a reflection on the current anti-racist and anti-capitalist movements.
We are faced with true artistic narratives: personal research, bibliographies and spiritual autobiographies that interpret contemporary complexity and bring forward, among other struggles, a critique of museum collecting practices. Adam Pendleton’s works are designed to influence the place that hosts them, giving new meanings and feelings to institutions. The artist believes in a well-rounded art: it is not possible to truly understand painting without fully understanding improvisation, poetry, and music. In this sense, the lyric becomes a meeting between political struggle and love, the writing a fundamental support of the work of art.