Selected works by Brent Wadden

Brent Wadden
Alignment (10)


Painting - Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas

215 x 200 cm

“I hope my paintings create some amount of confusion in the viewer which would lead to a fascination with the process.”

The use of wool and yarn in Brent Wadden’s paintings softens the graphic lines and edges of repeating geometric forms, rejecting the usual predetermined systems and austerity attached to geometric abstraction.

Brent Wadden
Alignment (13)


Painting- Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas

215 x 370 cm

The texture and unpredictability of how the wool acts resembles the accidental drips or gestural brushstrokes that might occur in a painting, while the fibre of the wool maintains the kind of emotional warmth that is deliberately absent in a flat painted surface.

Brent Wadden
Alignment (21)


Painting- Hand woven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas

205 x 185 cm

By choosing to work with second-hand, or pre-used yarns and wool, Wadden is often short of the amount he needs and so compensates with matching filler which – along with the inherent process – affects the consistency of the final work and combines the aspirations of reductive modernist painting with the ’make-do-and-mend’ of a poorer domesticity.

In his Alignment paintings 10, 13 and 21, Wadden successfully merges the surface beauty and decorative connotations attached to weaving with the high-minded concerns of geometric abstraction, and echoes the ideas present in the work of such artists as Jim Iserman, Sheila Hicks and Anni Albers; openly celebrating the uneasy area between folk art and fine art.

Text by Gemma de Cruz


2012, by Susanna Davies- Crook, Dazed Digital

Dazed & Confused's former guest art editor, Javier Peres, has choosen a trio of upcoming artists to be profiled on Dazed Digital. The first one comes in the shape of Canada-born Brent Wadden. In keeping with Peres' no-guts-no-glory attitude, he describes Wadden as "expanding the world of abstract geometric painting into the realm of humility and human-ness". Currently based in Berlin, in the fall Wadden is showing at Paris art fair FIAC, and is working on a book with Colour Code Printing in Toronto.
I'm more adventurous than brave. I'm generally not the kind of guy who bets it all but I'm also not playing by anyone else's rules.
Dazed Digital: How have you come to make the work that you make?
Brent Wadden: I grew up on a fairly small island on the east coast of Canada where folk art was quite prominent. I later studied at the Nova Scotia College of Design which is known as a breeding ground for conceptual art in the 60s and 70s. I feel as if some people don't have a choice of being an artist or not. I knew from an early age that It was what I wanted to be. I didn't fit in with anyone around me. When I was a little older I naturally surrounded myself with all the other people who didn't fit in.
DD: What are you working on at the moment?
Brent Wadden: I just prepared 13 new canvases of various sizes so it's looking like I will be painting for the next few months. I've also been considering building a floor loom. It's weird to think about doing such strenuous work in the summer though. Weaving is such a warm winter activity for me. Who wants to be sitting behind a loom all day when it's warm out?
DD: What remains consistent throughout?
Brent Wadden: That have a sense of history, slightly weathered, natural looking or a little busted. I like the mishaps or oddities that can arise when making something. Like if you run out of a specific color of paint or wool I just switch to a different one and keep on going.
DD: How do you know when it's time to run with an idea?
Brent Wadden: Personally, for me it all depends if I'm ready to stand behind it yet or not... I'm always making lists of possible projects and if they don't come back to me in the next months or make it on the next list then It wasn't meant to be. That's probably a good thing.
DD: What gets you hook line and sinker every time?
Brent Wadden: The obscure and unknown - or at least if it's new to me and seems original.
DD: Is it important to make work from the heart, gut and groin?
Brent Wadden: It's obvious when someone is making art from the heart or not.
DD: Would you say you're brave?
Brent Wadden: I'm more adventurous than brave. I'm generally not the kind of guy who bets it all but I'm also not playing by anyone else's rules.
DD: What are you into at the moment?
Brent Wadden: Hanging in the studio as much as possible, listening to Black Sabbath or Grimes, going on daily bike rides and watching the sunset with an ice cold beer in my hand.


January 2013, by Lisa Wilson, Dapper Dan Magazine

Brent Wadden is a Canadian artist who has been based in Berlin since 2005. His paintings and weavings range from colourful displays of symmetry to subtle monochrome motifs of repeating shapes. By applying tools and techniques from handicraft traditions to contemporary designs, he blurs the line between the traditional categories of fine and folk art. Lisa Wilson is a folklorist and self- taught painter currently working as a graveyard conservator in the ghost town of Port Royal, in Newfoundland.
So you live in Berlin now, but can you talk about where you are from?
I grew up in a fairly small town called Glace Bay, on a smallish island off the east coast of Nova Scotia called Cape Breton. It’s been kind of a bummer place to live since the ’80s, with its population in constant decline. We’ve sadly managed to use up most of the natural resources that our parents relied on for survival. I kind of want to say that, because of its location and depressed economy, the island lacked culture, or at least the kind I was searching for in my teens. But thanks to dial-up, I had access to all kinds of new information that was not available at the time. It allowed for a whole under- ground scene to develop around music and skateboarding that wouldn’t have been able to exist otherwise, and that connected a bunch of random kids from many small towns across the island.
Does Glace Bay have any heroes for you? What have you left behind and do you ever hope to retrieve it?
Sadly not so many heroes. I have admiration for the local characters that seem to exist in every small town, but there is no one I have 100 per cent admiration for. I have a large extended family and many of my good high-school friends still live there, so it’s always a good time to go back and visit. Besides my friends and family, I have a shitload of art supplies and music equipment and a few boxes of random nostalgic objects stored at my parents’ house that I’ve been too stubborn to part with over the years.
Do you ever consider going back to set up a studio?
You know, it’s always in the back of my mind, but I can’t see it materialising just yet. It would be too hard to go from a big city back to a small town. I moved to the mainland in the late ’90s to go to art school and even then, just moving a few hours away, you were seen as a bit of a traitor for leaving the island. But with that said, if I came across a decent studio space, I would definitely consider spending more time working there while trying to keep my connections off the island.
I agree that parts of eastern Canada can feel cut off from the rest of North America—do you see those feelings of isolation as linked to your early visual endeavours?
Looking back on when I was living in Nova Scotia, I don’t think I was so aware of its isolation from the rest of the world, because at that point I’d never experienced influential things like art or music first- hand. It was only natural to experience it in other ways, such as through books, magazines and tele- vision. It was only once I left that could see certain elements of the Maritimes that don’t exist anywhere else, such as the domination of craft as the prominent art form.


July 2012, by Alexander Forbes, Art Info

Brent Wadden’s paintings demand a second look. And a third. And a forth. And a fifth. Their multitude of geometric abstractions reveal new patters, divisions, and indeed characters with each look. With two canvases currently on view in Peres Projects’ summer group show and a third stashed in new dealer, Javier Peres’ office, Wadden, who splits his time between Berlin and Canada, has shown an entirely new depth, not only within the paint itself but in relationship to the viewer.
The geometric patterning within the paintings gives immediate reference to traditional arts such as Navajo rug weavings. However, Wadden says, “I’m not directly referencing that, but I am really interested in aboriginal art and the totem poles on the west coast of Canada.” Instead, the geometrical patterns that are consistent across all of his current body of work come from and equally historical painterly reference: the grid. “The canvas is broken up into sections by a freehanded grid pattern. Then from there I draw diagonals, and then I break it up with the spheres, which make the portraits or the characters.”

At first, these characters lay outside of the eye’s focus. Because of their immediate approachability as a form of reference to traditional arts or op-art, one passes over the fact that in many ways, they’re a form of portraiture. “Eventually the characters pull out of the pieces,” says Wadden. “For me each painting has a different mood even though I use the exact same structure for each painting. I’m just working within this grid pattern, but whether through color or technique something different comes out, each takes on a different identity,” he continues. “Within the space when they’re hung, each of the characters are either looking at each other or looking away from each other. This is determined by the placement of an eye consisting of two black and white right-angled triangles placed back to back. If I removed these triangles or simply changed the colors, the characters would probably disappear entirely and the painting would become a pure abstraction.” They make the viewer work for them, Peres suggests, explaining, “His work is quiet and complex, much like him, and it doesn’t scream for attention; it doesn’t need to.” On the gallery wall, Wadden’s paintings are far from the most eye catching works in the show, but they are certainly the most intimate. Even down to the raw wood framing, which Wadden tacks on, marking the end of each work, there is a real sense of touch in each of the works.
This was not always the case, however. Previous to this series of works and a forthcoming set, which will compose his first solo show with Peres, Wadden worked almost exclusively on paper in neon colors and psychedelic themes. The use of pseudo-portraiture and geometric abstraction were constant. However, reviewing the works in comparison to the new series is something like returning to ones teenage bedroom after a first year away at college. This is a transition that Peres notes as well in his decision to start working with Wadden in an artist-dealer relationship — for the past five years he had worked as a preparator at the gallery.