Last year, Drain expanded his practice in a new direction, with a literal manifestation of his textile-making activities: A limited-edition line of sweaters for the influential fashion boutique Opening Ceremony, woven with pixelated patterns evoking brain surfaces, data flows, hearts, and video-game bricks.
“My motivation with the sweaters and the furniture is to make art that can also be seen as functional,” he explains. “But the question is, do I want to have a fashion label? No, I don’t, but I still love making these. And I feel like it’s artwork in the context of a fashion store — they’re all one size, my size, and they’re not friendly to a consumer in that way, so it’s sort of like take it or leave it. Making it difficult in that way is a good compromise.”
His best-known sculptures — like this one, from a 2007 solo show at Greene Naftali — demonstrate how Drain typically deploys those fabric scraps and homemade knits: Generously, and with abandon. The show’s slightly nonsensical press release at the time called it a “gender-bent amalgamism of bent tube steel and metal covered in a stylish frenzy of patterned fabrics, part Frank Stella and part parade float, part corporate sculpture and part strip club decoration.”