Diedrick Brackens shape of a fever believer
on view through 10 April 2021

Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square

Known for his hand-dyed, hand-woven tapestries, Los Angeles-based artist Diedrick Brackens combines figurative and abstract iconography to allude to larger cultural, political, and allegorical narratives. Within his intricate, large-scale work, he coaxes emotive, meditative reflections on dark, fractured histories and interweaves sensations of tenderness, trauma, healing, and legacy against a backdrop of American life.

For shape of a fever believer, his first exhibition in Canada, Brackens brings together a selection of his recent textile work. In this new body of work, the artist centres on the metaphoric and lived experience of fatality associated with disease and sickness, namely HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate effect on Black, queer, and other marginalized communities. A series of silhouetted black figures against abstracted landscapes of colour participate in rituals and fantasies of desire and kinship. His repeated use of bare silhouettes, along with allegorical symbols—mosquitoes, veins, fire—lend to the creation of a collective mythology.

As told through the body language of each depicted figure, Brackens' stories are rooted as readily in vulnerability and care—the beauty and joy they can provide—as in danger, brutality, and intergenerational trauma. Brackens tenderly and compassionately engages in a resignification of disease, seeking to liberate infection from its malignant pathologies and to realize intimacy, freedom, and vigour for his subjects. With each scene, he engages with the affects of the Black experience in the United States, past and present.

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