Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present diedrick brackens’ rhyming positions at our 513 West 20th Street location. The artist’s second exhibition with the gallery, these eight new weavings continue the explorations of narrative, allegory, and intimacy so fundamental to Brackens’ practice.
In several tableaux situated in nature, Brackens plays with the idea of creating home in a wild space, honoring the outdoors as a place in which queerness lives. This is a nod to the history of queer and femme folks who have gathered in nature, creating safe spaces for ritual and communion. This notion of commune is present in summer syllables, in which two figures stretch in lyrical movement, seemingly fashioning loops out of their own bodies, as if flowing one into the other within a vast, yellow landscape. In soft, dark, demigod, a figure bends over, caught within a thicket of roses in full bloom. This moment is indicative of Brackens’ own observation of the outside world over the course of the past year, as he has relished in these quiet moments of continued life as flowers grow. The presence of roses hint at the sensuality and eroticism that are apparent throughout this body of work and in Brackens’ practice more broadly.
In marshling a lone figure stands poised in the water, akimbo, surrounded by catfish and flora of the swamp. Catfish are a recurring motif in Brackens’ work, an emblem of the American South, embodying the soul and ancestral spirits. Continuing his practice of pulling from traditional folklore, two rabbits rest on chairs in each their own, almost as if they have been conjured up by the figure seated in their midst. Rabbits, creatures that live both above and below the earth, have shown up throughout African and African-American tales and literature as messengers and trickster figures. To Brackens, the animals in these works feel less literal and more like other humans or spirits in communion with the figures, the trio seated together almost as if awaiting a dance.
While these weavings technically lay static, each is imbued with the potential for movement, collectively forming a choreography of figures caught in a graceful ebb and flow. Along with the tension between fixed and fluid, Brackens balances his outdoor exploration with a study on physical and metaphorical interiority. The sensuality so palpably felt in nature is equally invigorating in intimate domestic scenes of partnership. a year of assurances offers the tender act of bathing in commune, the two subjects’ limbs seamless, naturally, comfortably intertwined. This emotive feeling of care for the other continues in taste honey for nerves. Two central figures lean in to kiss, mirroring the two palm trees that sway just outside of their reach. A swarm of bees brings the outdoors in, blanketing the lovers within Bracken’s singular magical realist world.
Brackens (b. 1989) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He received a BFA from University of North Texas, Denton, TX and an MFA in textiles from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA. His work is currently on view in solo exhibitions at the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ. Recent solo exhibitions include the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, Oakville Galleries, Ontario, Canada, New Museum, New York, NY, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KS, the University of North Texas, Denton, TX. Past group exhibitions include the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Alabama Contemporary Art Center, Mobile, AL; Made in LA 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum, San Francisco, CA. Brackens is in the permanent collections of The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI. He was the 2018 recipient of The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize and the 2019 recipient of the Marciano Artadia Award.
Concurrently on view at 524 West 24th Street is a selection of works by Radcliffe Bailey, Gehard Demetz, and Claudette Schreuders, among others. Upcoming exhibitions include Tyler Mitchell at our 20th Street and 24th Street spaces, opening September 9, 2021.