In the studio with… Adam Pendleton

Adam Pendleton creates bold, conceptual works that unravel ideas surrounding social resistance, race, avant-garde art, and underrepresented historical movements. Working in media ranging from silkscreen painting and photo collage to video, performance and publication, Pendleton refers to his practice as “Black Dada,” a term originally coined by the poet Amiri Baraka. In 2008 he presented the Black Dada Manifesto as part of his exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, and in 2017 he published Black Dada Reader, a compilation of historical essays and commissioned works by writers including Adrienne Edwards, Laura Hoptman, and Susan Thompson. Pendletons Works are currently on view at Pace Gallery in Geneva until October 5th and at Galeria Eva Presenhuber Zurich until November 26th.

where is your studio

Brooklyn, NY.

What do you like most about it?

The site. It’s walking distance from my home. I’ve been there for less than a year and so far my studios have always been 30 to 40 minutes away.

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How does your environment inspire your work?

I think the spaces you occupy affect your thoughts, the fluidity and flexibility with which you approach your work. I pay very close attention to my studio spaces: how they are set up, what is in them and how things are arranged and organized.

Installation view of ‘Adam Pendleton: In Abstraction’ at Pace Gallery, Geneva. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich; © Adam Pendleton

What makes a good assistant?

I am looking for intuition and devotion. I think art and the process of making it are so much about the unspoken. Some people understand things very quickly and intuitively, others for whatever reason don’t. I think devotion leads to intuition – if you devote yourself to the process, making art, it increases your chances of having a more intuitive relationship with your process.

Is there anything that frustrates you about your current studio practice?

I feel like I never find enough time to paint. There’s always something I have to do. But that’s also the most beautiful thing about time: it races forward. One of the things I love about painting is getting lost in the relationship between time and space. This is actually a visual situation I’m talking about: when things appear in the imagery of the picture that seem to transcend established notions of time or theories about the relationship between time and space.

Installation view of ‘Adam Pendleton: In Abstraction’ at Pace Gallery, Geneva. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich; © Adam Pendleton

Do you have a certain routine when you’re in the studio?

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I like going to the studio on weekends when it’s quiet and less crowded. It’s almost a religious practice for me: finding the time on weekends to go to the studio and find the work I have to need to do, to start making and [hope that] something happens.

What is the most read book in your studio?

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Right now I’m really enjoying a book by Alexis called Pauline Gumbs Spill: Scenes of black feminist fleetingness. I think she’s a great writer.

Do you hear anything while you work?

Lately I’ve been listening to a song called annie by the singer-songwriter Dijon, like the mustard. I don’t really like R&B, but this is where R&B meets folk and indie rock. [Dijon] is one of those great, unexpected discoveries – he’s able to bring down all these genres and modalities with seemingly not much effort. All of his songs feel like a rehearsal, there’s something hesitant about his performance.

Installation view of ‘Adam Pendleton: In Abstraction’ at Pace Gallery, Geneva. Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich; © Adam Pendleton

What’s the strangest object in your studio?

The studio is pretty minimalist. I always try to limit foreign objects. The strangest thing is probably the candy bars in my desk drawer.

Who is the most interesting visitor you have ever had in your studio?

I would probably say my mother because she gets it all. While not an artist herself or an art expert, she has a really good eye. It fascinates me again and again – I think how is this possible, but it is possible!

Adam Pendleton: In Abstraction is on view at the Pace Gallery in Geneva until October 5.

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