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20 Aug 2020

Adam Pendleton: Elements of Me

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Reviewed by Franklin Einspruch

Adam Pendleton brands his practice as "Black Dada." This is brilliant marketing. Contemporary curators love ticking identity checkboxes, and regard Marcel Duchamp as Jesus Christ. Consequently the ascendant art of our time could be called Bureaucratic Woke Aesthetics. But unlike art movements exemplified throughout the rest of the Gardner, it ascends only among the germane bureaucrats.

To paraphrase Thomas Carlyle, let he who has found his hustle ask for no other blessing. Pendleton sieves '80s-era text-driven painting and '70s-era collage-driven printmaking through a style of zero-chroma abstraction that died in Brazil in 1963. He then indicates via the wall label that it's about race, and conceptually calls it a day. Only the show's format as installation indicates that it hails from this already exhausted century. Circles, triangles, and squares, invoked as emblems, summon the ghost of Sol LeWitt, who shakes his head and floats off.

"Elements of Me" likewise feels emblematic of the cultural moment, slick, perfunctory, exsanguinated, muttering to itself.

Exhibition Adam Pendleton: Elements of Me link
Start date 13 Feb 2020
End date 15 Nov 2020 (in 19 days)
Presenter Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum link
Venue 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA, USA map
Image Installation view, Adam Pendleton: Elements of Me, courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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