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Brent Wadden’s Woven Paintings

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Brent Wadden began his artistic journey as a painter, studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before moving to Berlin shortly after to pursue work. In 2009, inspired by his daily encounters with torrent download status bars, Wadden decided to begin a project depicting this routine part of his life. “I wanted to somehow parallel them with another time-based process,” he says. And so he turned to weaving.

The process in completing one of his “paintings” is quite time-consuming: a three-panel piece takes just under a week to finish. Having received only one introductory lesson and a laser-cut backstrap loom from Travis Meinolf of Action Weaver, Wadden is an otherwise self-taught weaver who avoids learning any proper skills. “This naiveté works to my advantage when seen through the lens of painting,” Wadden says. “The mistakes are charming.” Though, he admits, they “probably make a skilled weaver’s hair stand on end.”

The allure of the woven paintings’ imperfect lines is not the only indication of Wadden’s painterly background; their textured surfaces also have this effect. He enjoys working with worn, second-hand yarn to give his pieces this more natural look. This combination of weathered yarn, the placement of the geometric figures, and subtle yet contrasting details (such as the single corner tip of blue in the otherwise crimson-dominating piece of Big Red) contribute to a fascinating showcase of his blend of mediums.

Wadden has been represented by New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery since 2014, with his first major solo show opened April 23. The self-titled show will exhibit eight new woven paintings, which Wadden calls his most diverse grouping to date, noting how “some are very bright and intense while others are subdued and calm.” It is within this range of work that Wadden’s experimentation blurs the lines between perfect and imperfect, painter and weaver, and viewer and artist.