Exhibition Detail

Neha Vedpathak, The more I learn the less I know (detail), 2021, Hand plucked Japanese handmade paper, acrylic paint, thread. Courtesy of the artist

Subtleism: Neha Vedpathak with Agnes Martin

October 26, 2024 - March 2, 2025
Upper Galleries

Subtleism: Neha Vedpathak with Agnes Martin will showcase a new body of work by Detroit-based abstractionist Neha Vedpathak alongside important canonical works by Agnes Martin, the great American painter associated with Minimalism and a principal influence on Vedpathak’s practice.

Born in India, Vedpathak has spent the past decade in Detroit developing a unique technique of manipulating paper that she calls “plucking.” The time-consuming, labor-intensive process consists of creating countless incisions in painted, hand-made Japanese mulberry paper, known for its long, strong fibers. As a result of plucking, her work has been compared to fiber art, highlighting questions of materiality, texture, and mark-making. Vedpathak views the act of plucking to be resonant with meditation as the creation of work involves a repetitive, ritualistic, and durational act for long periods of time—sometimes multiple weeks for larger pieces. In her work, Vedpathak asks the question “when does the mundane become magical?”

Vedpathak perceives many parallels, alongside the meditative aspect of creation, between her practice and that of Agnes Martin. While writers have previously categorized her work as Minimalist, Vedpathak personally describes herself as a “Subtleist”. Martin likewise rejected the categorization under the umbrella of Minimalism, considering herself an Abstract Expressionist. The title of the exhibition—Subtleism—pushes back on the categorization of previous art historiography while allowing a contemporary artist to analyze Martin’s work through a different lens.

Subtleism: Neha Vedpathak with Agnes Martin is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Laura Mott, Chief Curator, and Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum