Various Small Fires is pleased to present Texas-native Diedrick Brackens’ debut solo exhibition in Asia, together our shadows make a single belly. In a series of four new works, Brackens offers woven tapestries dense with analogy and narrative.
For his solo exhibition in Seoul, Brackens expands his exploration of silhouetted figures and pushes the investigation of the underlying textile structures. In together our shadows make a single belly, Brackens finds inspiration and form in the West African symbol system of Adinkra. One symbol is particular, the Funtunfunefu (pronounced foon-toon-fu-nee-fu) symbol informs the rhythm of consent. Roughly translated to ‘unity for one destiny,’ the symbol depicts the figures of two conjoined crocodiles sharing a stomach, signifying the idea of sharing a destiny and one-ness with others and within oneself. A reflection of this notion, the reptile is swapped for a human likeness. Brackens’s figures overlap or intertwine, and appear to work together or lean on each other for support throughout the suite of works.
The carefully chosen titles of the works are drawn from various sources, ranging from the Bible (the night is my shepherd) to the title of Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, a collection of reminiscences of African Americans leaving the American South during the Great Migration. Pop culture, literature, as well as the artist’s own lyrical writing, everything has a place within Brackens’ allegorical universe.
In previous presentations, Brackens applied a more painterly gesture in the work where colors in the textiles appeared to drip or melt. In together our shadows make a single belly, however, the artist employs the textile-specific language of plaids, stripes, and checkers to generate tension between the naturalistic, referential tendency of ‘tapestry’ as a form, and the abstract, design-oriented conceit of weaving. In the weavings, plaids and stripes defy spatial recession, flattening the planes these figures inhabit and making their environs inextricable from the world of clothmaking. Brackens interlaces a complex matrix of color that illuminates stories of connection to others, compelling us to find a deeper connection within.
Diedrick Brackens (b. 1989, Mexia, Texas, lives and works in Los Angeles, California) received a BFA from University of North Texas, Denton and an MFA in textiles from California College of the Arts, Oakland. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Oakville Art Galleries, Ontario, Canada; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; New Museum, New York; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles and Seoul; Sewanee University Art Gallery, Tennessee; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas; and Johansson Projects, Oakland. Recent group exhibitions include Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, Massachusetts, University Art Museum, Albany, New York, MCA Chicago; Made in L.A. 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Jewish Contemporary Art Museum, San Francisco; Dimensions Variable, Miami, Florida; Thomas Erben Gallery, New York; and Denny Dimin Gallery, New York. He is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Grant; Los Angeles Artadia Award; American Craft Council Emerging Artist Award; and the Wein Prize. Brackens is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Joslyn Museum of Art, Omaha, Nebraska; Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; New Orleans Museum of Art; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, and the Oakland Museum of California.