Adam Pendleton (b. 1984, Richmond, Virginia, USA,) is a New York-based artist whose work examines and questions the freedom of abstraction in relationship to language, politics, and identity. The animating force of his work is found in Black Dada—the artist’s term for a broad conceptualization of blackness. Working in various modes and mediums including painting, collage, video, and performance, the artist disrupts and reconsiders preconceived notions of history and culture.
Untitled (WE ARE NOT) (2021) is one of a recent series of untitled paintings featuring repeating, overlapping, spray-painted language. The phrase “WE ARE NOT” is drawn from the sentences “We are not naive,” “We are not exclusive,” and “We are [not] successive,” which appear consecutively in Pendleton’s “Black Dada” manifesto. The language has been painted, photographed, enlarged, and silkscreened onto canvas, with the artist’s initial gesture becoming integrated into a chain of transformations. As Pendleton puts it: “I think of the spray paint, or the spray can, as a kind of machine, an exchange between what my body can do and what my body can will a simple machine to do. Failure is inherently a part of this dynamic, and that is kind of what the painting reveals, this tension between perfect and imperfect, [between] that which is deliberate and that which occurs by chance.”