“I’m Trying to Overwhelm the Museum,” He Said

Adam Pendleton with “Untitled (We Are Not),” 2021, silkscreen ink on canvas, at the Museum of Modern Art… Credit…Lelanie Foster for The New York Times.

[Adam] Pendleton, 37, is best known as a painter of abstract canvases in a distinctive black-and-white style that challenge how we read language. Made using spray-paint, brush and silk-screen processes, they incorporate photocopied text, words unmoored from context, letters scrambled and repeated.

“Untitled (Hey Mama Hey),” 2021, silkscreen ink on Mylar sheet… Credit… Adam Pendleton.

… Adrienne Edwards, the director of curatorial affairs at the Whitney Museum… called his work a “lush Conceptualism”… But the work is never easy. Pendleton claims for his art the privilege — the necessity — that the French Caribbean scholar Édouard Glissant called the right to opacity: to not be legible, to not have to explain oneself.

Pendleton constructing his 60-foot-tall installation, “Who Is Queen?” in MoMA’s atrium… Credit… Lelanie Foster for The New York Times.

“I’m fine with being misunderstood,” he said. “You can see it in my work — these fields of stuttering language. It’s a refusal, but it’s an invitation at the same time.”

Pendleton’s newest series of paintings at MoMA is “Untitled (They Will Love Us, All of Us Queens),” 2021… Credit…Adam Pendleton.

[The exhibition] “Who Is Queen?” is prompted by a challenge to the personal identity of the artist, who is Black and gay — the expression “you’re such a queen,” once tossed at him in a way that got under his skin… Perhaps characteristically, rather than dwell on the microaggression, Pendleton made it the prompt for his broad inquiry into how easily the social urge to categorize takes root and constrains hard-won freedoms. “… I think that’s what draws us to art; at its best it’s other [My emphasis — JMN], it’s outside of those fixed and finite spaces.”

(Siddhartha Mitter, “Adam Pendleton Is Rethinking the Museum,” NYTimes, 9-11-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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