Peter Nadin was born in 1954 in Bromborough in the north of England and moved to New York in 1976, after being presented with the Max Beckman Award at the Brooklyn Museum. Since then, he has lived and worked between New York City and Old Field Farm in Greene County, NY. First Mark is Nadin’s first exhibition in the United States since 1992.
Nadin’s practice has always focused on the possibilities of giving form to consciousness, with his approach to this challenge changing over time. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Nadin’s paintings and sculptures often sought to represent consciousness, however his paintings over the last fifteen years have sought to present the experience, not the objects, of the underlying process of consciousness itself. This shift coincided with the relocation of his studio to Cornwallville, NY, where he began to farm while continuing to paint. The tactile, olfactory, visual, and auditory experiences of the land move Nadin to create marks on linen using materials from the farm: honey, wax, bee propolis, black walnut, elderberry, chicken eggs, and cashmere wool. Nadin’s new paintings and sculptures return his work to the most basic impulse from which it first emerged, the ‘First Mark’. Philosophically complex yet made of simple materials from the earth, Nadin’s work addresses crucial issues of our time—our dire ecological situation and our severance from tradition and identity—whilst simultaneously embodying a simplicity and idealism at its core.
In 2006 Nadin visited Cuba as a delegate to the South American Beekeepers’ Conference. While in Havana he was invited by Rubén Lantarón, director of the Wifredo Lam Center, to exhibit his work. First Mark was first exhibited in Havana in 2007 and traveled to four other Cuban cities: Pinar Del Río, Matanzas, Holguín, and San Antonio de los Baños. The exhibition then travelled to Cuenca, Ecuador. An expanded version of the First Mark series will be shown at Gavin Brown’s enterprise June 29th – July 30th 2011.
The exhibition is accompanied by both a catalogue, Peter Nadin: First Mark, published by Charta, and a free newspaper, specifically conceived for this exhibition, entitled The Bugle. The Bugle features a mosaic of historical and contemporary texts by artists, poets and scientists addressing the overlapping fields of culture and agriculture. The Bugle is edited by Jason Farago and features contributions from Glenn O’Brien, R.L. Beyfuss, Christine Muhlke, April Bloomfield, Andrew McCarron, and many others.
Old Field Farm in Cornwallville now comprises 150 acres of forest, wild bee pasture, a habitat for goats, chickens, hogs, and vegetable and fruit gardens. The farm is beginning a Bootleg Buying Club to allow New Yorkers to buy produce not readily available in retail outlets directly from the farm. During the course of the exhibition the club will operate out of Gavin Brown’s enterprise; afterwards, it will move to 88 Grove Street in the West Village. More information will be available in The Bugle.