London –Adam Pendleton, inspired by the poem, Black Dada Nihilismus, from Amiri Baraka’s book, The Dead Lecturer, has been producing what is called a “critical articulation of blackness, abstraction, and the avant-garde” through conceptually rigorous work in painting, collage, video, and installations that “insert his work into broader conversations about history and contemporary culture” [PACE]. For most, it will be sufficient for the New York-based Pendleton to speak for himself and let you see his current show at PACE, titled Our Ideas. The work is graphically striking, layered, heavily saturated with references and visual cues.
Visually it is not really that indebted to 20th century Dada work by the classic Modernists, but more closely linked to contemporary nuances within a range of more recent movements from Minimalism to media critique to mediated news of historical events–especially as seen in North American newspapers and magazines related to the Civil Rights movement and what is referred to as the “visual culture of decolonialization” a convenient catch-all for found-sources of powerful images of people in a variety of revealing contexts.
Though the work is highly eclectic, it is pervaded by a unified and seductive graphic style giving Pendleton’s show a certain accessibility. You enter a room and are engulfed by all things Pendleton, a world of Adam Pendleton that makes you want to stay and take it all in. This seems to reflect Pendleton’s easy-going manner as evidenced in his video with Yvonne Rainer. The Dada references are more in the spirit of the playfulness of some of the early Dadas, such as Ernst and Schwitters [who also influence his collage style to some extent], but otherwise the Dada aspect is not too heavy-handed, which is a good thing.
Our Ideas features both current work and older pieces, including four of his Untitled (a Victim of American Democracy) paintings visually riffing off the phrase from Malcolm X’s 1964 speech, a Black Dada painting and drawing, a charming video portrait of Yvonne Rainer initially commissioned by Performa, collages, a “Wall Work”, and smaller “System of Display” pieces. The exhibition runs through 9 November 2018 at PACE, London.