In the studio with… Adam Pendleton

Adam Pendleton creates bold conceptual works that unravel ideas around social resistance, race, avant-garde art, and underrepresented historical movements. Working in mediums ranging from screen printing and photographic collage to video, performance and publishing, Pendleton calls his practice “Black Dada,” a phrase originally coined by 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 the “Black Dada Reader”, a compilation of historical essays and commissioned pieces. by writers like Adrienne Edwards, Laura Hoptman and Susan Thompson. Pendleton the work is currently exhibited at the Pace Gallery in Geneva until October 5 and at the Galeria Eva Presenhuber in Zurich until November 26.

Where is your workshop?

Brooklyn, New York.

What do you like the most about it?

The location. It’s walking distance from my house. I’ve been there for less than a year and previously my studios were always 3o to 40 minutes away.

How does your environment inspire your work?

I think the spaces you occupy influence the thoughts you have, the fluidity and flexibility with which you approach your work. I’m very particular about the space in my studio: how it’s laid out, what’s in it and how things are arranged and organised.

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

What makes a good assistant?

I seek intuition and dedication. I think a lot of art, and the process of creating it, is about what isn’t said. Some people pick things up very quickly and intuitively and others, for whatever reason, don’t. I think dedication leads to intuition – if you dedicate yourself to the process, to creating art, it increases your chances of having a more intuitive relationship with your process.

Is there anything that frustrates you in your current practice in the studio?

I feel like I never find enough time to paint. There’s always something I have to do. But it’s also the most beautiful thing about time: it goes forward. One of the things I love about painting is getting lost in the relationship between time and space. It’s really a visual situation I’m talking about: when things start happening in the visuality of the painting that seem to transcend fixed ideas about time, or theories about the relationship to 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 particular routine when you are in the studio?

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

What is the most leafed through book in your studio?

Right now, I’m really enjoying a book by Alexis Pauline Gumbs called Spread: Black feminist fugue scenes. I think she’s a great writer.

Do you listen to anything while you work?

Lately I listened to a song called Anne by the singer-songwriter from Dijon, like mustard. I don’t really like R&B, but it’s a kind of R&B that meets folk and indie rock. [Dijon] is one of those great unexpected discoveries – it’s able to collapse all of these genres and modalities with what doesn’t seem like much effort. All of his songs feel like a rehearsal, there is hesitation in his performance.

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

What is the strangest object in your studio?

The studio is quite minimalist. I always try to limit foreign objects. I guess the weirdest thing is the chocolate bars in my desk drawers.

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

I would probably say my mom because she notices everything. Although she is not an artist or art expert herself, she has a very good eye. It always fascinates me – I think to myself, how is it possible, but it is possible!

“Adam Pendleton: in the abstract” is at rhythm gallery, Geneva, until October 5.

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