Discover an Imaginary Realm in “blood compass” – New Exhibition by Diedrick Brackens at Jack Shainman Gallery in NYC!

Art Martin Cid Magazine
Diedrick Brackens, blood compass, 2023

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present blood compass, a solo exhibition of new work by Diedrick Brackens spanning both New York City locations, opening April 25 in Chelsea, and April 26 in Tribeca. In these weavings, the artist maps an imagined place — visualizing the internal mechanisms and symbols that animate his work while removing the anchor of direct narrative. The scenes depicted in each weaving exist out of time, suspended between a distant past and a world to come. The works in this series are set at dusk, twilight, and deep night — hours that become vehicles for ritual and interiority. The silhouetted inhabitants of this in-between realm are archetypes that Brackens once described as ciphers, or “needles through which I slip the threads of biography and myth, and pass through a mesh of history and context.”

His figures are accompanied by an ecosystem of symbols and shapes that have recurred over the course of his practice. The animals, natural elements, and man-made objects, accrue significance every time they are cast in this ever-evolving mythology. The characters in this series are placed in dialogue with lightning bolts, waning suns, and sourceless orbs of light — open-ended devices of orientation. In these distilled arrangements, footholds for straightforward interpretation dissolve — inviting viewers to parse the compositions and uncover meaning.  

Brackens’ semiotic language emerges from lived experience, but also through revisiting books, poems, and legends. In blood compass, some of these references — alluded to in his titles — include the novel Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler, the poem “How you might approach a foal” by Wendy Videlock, and the Bible’s parable of the prodigal son. These stories, though dramatically diverse in genre and subject, speak to Brackens’ inclination to loop, lose, and locate oneself in that which is known, but also to shape-shift, forming new meaning from that which is “familiar.” He approaches these symbols — weighted with memory, context, and history — with fresh eyes or, as Videlock’s poem concludes, ”like you / are new to the world.”  

Diedrick Brackens (b. 1989, Mexia, TX; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) is best known for his woven tapestries that explore allegory and narrative through the artist’s autobiography, broader themes of African American and queer identity, as well as American history. Brackens employs techniques from West African weaving, quilting from the American South and European tapestry-making to create both abstract and figurative works. Often depicting moments of male tenderness, Brackens culls from African and African American literature, poetry and folklore as source. Beginning his process through the hand-dyeing of cotton, a material he deliberately uses in acknowledgement of its brutal history, Brackens’ oeuvre presents rich, nuanced visions of African American life and identity, while also alluding to the complicated histories of labor and migration. Brackens utilizes both commercial dyes and atypical pigments such as wine, tea and bleach to create his vibrant, intricately-woven tapestries that investigate historical gaps, interlacing the present with his singular magical realist worldview. Brackens’ scenes intentionally lack any sort of moralizing tone, allowing his subjects the freedom of living life on their terms. Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to represent Brackens in collaboration with Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA / Dallas, TX / Seoul, KR.

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News about art, exhibitions, museums and artists around the world. An international view of the art world. Responsible for the Art Section: Lisbeth Thalberg
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