Painted Threads Pacita Abadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Abstract Trapuntos
Cover: Ecstasy (detail), 1990 (79 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Painted Threads Exploring the Spirit and the Senses Oriental Abstractions Abstract Emotions Artist Profile
PAINTED THREADS Pacita Abad's painting is characterized by color, continuous change and experimentation from the 1970s right up to her passing in 2004. While some artists maintain one particular style throughout their careers, Pacita never repeated her work and always kept exploring new techniques, subject matters and materials. The one constant throughout her artistic career was her bold and vibrant use of color. Pacita's paintings in the late 1970s and early 1980s were in some ways a travel diary of the places throughout the world where she lived and painted: Bangladesh, India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Sudan/South Sudan and Kenya, among others. Thus, her early paintings were primarily figurative, socio-political works of urban and rural scenes, and refugees drawn from her experiences living overseas. In the 1980s she followed her passion for tribal art and traditional textiles by creating her Masks and Spirits series, followed by three completely different bodies of work consisting of large nature paintings from her deep water scuba diving experiences, animal wildlife adventures, and her love of tropical flowers. However, Pacita's most extensive and well-known body of work is her vibrantly colorful abstract, stitched, mixed media paintings. Almost all of
which are hand-stitched paintings embellished with diverse combinations of textiles and an array of objects and found materials. Overall, she created more than a thousand mixed media, hand-stitched artworks between 1981 and 2004. Most of her stitched paintings were abstract designs, though a number of them continued to be narrative. In addition to her stitched paintings, throughout her 32-year career Pacita constantly explored new techniques and processes, as she completed multiple artworks on a wide range of materials, creating colorful prints, paper collages, ceramic plates, painted glass, wearable art and public art installations. A disciplined and prolific painter, she created over 4,500 artworks and among her public art projects painted a 55-meter long bridge in Singapore, covering it with over 2,000 multicolored circles a few months before she died.
Needle and Thread Pacita’s artistic transition from her early easel and flat surface using oil on canvas to large mixed media artwork created on her studio wall or floor evolved over time, but in retrospect it had a number of obvious and important personal antecedents. Pacita was born and raised on Batanes, a poor, isolated fishing island in the South China Sea where families lived on very frugal budgets. Pacita’s mother was a dedicated housewife who raised 14 children. She made all of the family’s clothes and crocheted curtains, bedspreads and tablecloths for their house. She insisted that Pacita and her eldest sister Rency learn how to crochet, embroider and sew, as they were taught never to waste any material. The girls disassembled shirts, pants and dresses and put them back together to re-fit their younger siblings. Later when the family moved to Manila, Pacita focused on her studies, but frequently went with her mother and sister to the Divisoria wholesale market to buy cloth, buttons and other material. However, it wasn’t until 1970 when
she was living in San Francisco’s Haight Asbury district as a student, that she used her sewing skills to work as a seamstress to earn money. It was there at the epicenter of the hippie movement that Pacita also saw people wearing beads and embroidering, crocheting and patching their clothes with tribal textiles from Mexico, Guatemala and India to make them funky. A few years later when she and her husband Jack were hitchhiking across Asia from Istanbul to the Philippines, Pacita began embroidering her cut up blue jean skirt and embellishing his shirts with Turkish puppet designs. Along the way, she picked up pieces of tribal textiles, beads and tin jewelry as she traveled through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Soon she looked like a tribal nomad, and it was a style she would embrace for the rest of her life. During this trip Pacita was constantly captivated by the vibrancy, brilliance and intensity of the colors that the local women wore, and was even more impressed that most of the accessories and clothing worn were made from common items found in local markets.
"I was overwhelmed when I first went to India, and particularly to Rajasthan in 1974. Every woman I saw was a walking piece of art, covered with colorful fabrics, beads, mirrors, tin jewelry, buttons, dyed yarn and multicolored hair ornaments." On her return to America, Pacita still followed her mother’s motto and she and Jack continued to be inveterate back alley scavengers, always on the lookout for scraps of material that she could creatively use. One time in New York’s garment district they found bags of discarded fabric; later they discovered a butcher’s coat, which Pacita soon combined with the fabric patches to make her “coat of many colors”. Years later after Pacita became a painter she would continue to make and funk up their clothes, household items and sewed costumes for local theater productions.
A Thousand Stitched Paintings Although Pacita never made much of a distinction, her stitched paintings are loosely classified under three categories: trapunto paintings; textile collages; and abstract assemblages. Their common factor is that almost all of these stitched paintings include rich combinations of paint, textiles, cloth and found objects, such as ribbons, sequins, beads, buttons, tin and mirrors, among others. While her trapunto paintings are large and quilted, her textile collages are not quilted and the fabric is painted and stitched onto canvas. Her abstract assemblages are similar to textile collages, but emphasize the use of a variety of found objects. Pacita’s first stitched paintings were created by happenstance in Boston in the early 1980s, right after she had returned from three months painting in Africa. She was painting with three other woman artists on a weekly basis when the initial concept crystallized. One of them, Barbara Newman, made life-size dolls, and this gave Pacita the idea that she might utilize similar sewing and quilting techniques to give her artwork an added dimension. In a major departure from her earlier paintings on a canvas surface, she found that her new technique offered ways to expand her paintings beyond traditional boundaries and make them more sculptural. Pacita then called her new technique “trapunto painting”. Trapunto (from Italian word for quilted or embroidered) is a quilt with a raised surface, stuffed with cotton and defined with running stitches. With the help of her sewing skills, over the next two and a half decades she began to explore and develop her innovative mixed media painting style, which allowed her to fuse her painted canvas surface with hand-stitched, three dimensional collage and assemblages. Opposite: Pacita’s painted clothes
At first glance, Pacita's vivid stitched canvases look like large oil paintings, however, as the viewer draws closer, her works are in fact three dimensional. Not only painted but adorned with sewn swatches of traditional textiles, which she gathered on her numerous journeys to the far reaches of the globe. These paintings were often festooned with found objects, such as sequins, beads, shells, buttons, tiny mirrors, bits of glass, and rickrack.
“I used to feel limited when I worked on canvas because I let the size and texture restrict how I painted. Gradually, however, I took control of the canvas and began to expand the surface…and it incorporates painting, collaging, stitching and texturing, which gives my work a three dimensional effect. In this way I am able to make reliefs, which are unconventional and nontraditional. The beauty of my trapunto technique is that it frees me from the limitations imposed by traditional painting and allows me greater spontaneity.”
Her stitched trapunto paintings kept evolving as she encountered new influences such as mola from the San Blas Islands of Panama; sequined drapo vodou banners from Haiti; huipils from Guatemala and Mexico; Kuba and Raffia textiles from Congo; embroidery from Afghanistan; Ralli quilts from Pakistan; kalaga from Burma; kantha from Bangladesh; Rabari mirrored embroidery from India; shells from the Philippines and the South Pacific; bark cloth from Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia; batik and ikat from Indonesia; beadwork from Kenya; and mud cloth from West Africa.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;While I am traveling, I typically make quick sketches of my impressions and work on small collages. These sketches and all the materials I gathered along the way, are later incorporated into bigger pieces when I returned home to my studio,â&#x20AC;? she said. "I delineate all the lines in the painting and every stitch is done by hand, because I don't like the look of machine stitching. Besides, sewing is so therapeutic and meditative.â&#x20AC;? Pacita discovered that the stitched, mixed media process allowed her a spontaneous and innovative opportunity for unlimited artistic experimentation and improvisation, as well as a vehicle for abstract exploration, socio-political commentary or cultural celebration. In her
creative hands, this technique also allowed her to utilize a number of different processes and materials including painting, collage, silkscreen, appliquĂŠ, tie-dye, embroidery and assemblage, which she experimented with in her mixed media artwork. To paint for you, front and back side of a trapunto painting
It also allowed her to utilize her special knack for creating unique compositions of traditional textiles and found materials in her paintings. She loved to embellish the surface of her trapunto paintings by adding objects and local materials that she brought back from her trips. As a result, her studio overflowed with boxes and jars of buttons, beads, glitter, sequins, shells, mirrors, bark cloth, butterfly cocoons and numerous other found and
collected objects. Her passion was well known to her friends, who would often bring her these materials that she used to enrich her paintings. Cora Alvina, Director of the Philippine National Museum, noted that Pacita’s stitched paintings were “inspirations, and expressions of her unadulterated passion for color, texture, and form in art seen at every thrust and turn of the needle." Artistically, Pacita’s stitched, mixed media paintings also signified a move from figurative realism to abstraction. In terms of the size of her paintings, as It also allowed her to make larger works as she moved away from the easel and onto the floor and wall with her large scale, tapestry-style paintings. Pacita called her first series of large, abstract paintings “Oriental Abstractions”, inspired by ink painting lessons she took in Korea. She named her second series of abstract trapuntos “Abstract Emotions” after the range of emotions that she experienced following her mother’s death. Many people were initially perplexed by her stylistic shift from traditional painting to mixed media, and a number of artists and critics had difficulty in appreciating her hand-stitched, embellished paintings as art. Others simply dismissed her work as “craft”. Although textile art is now increasingly recognized and appreciated in the modern art world, in the early 1980s curators typically characterized artwork utilizing fabric and stitching with the pejorative terms of “low art”, “craft” or “women's art”. Not surprisingly, only a few painters in America, including Miriam Schapiro, Faith Ringgold, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg and Alan Shields, were incorporating fabric and stitching in their paintings, and even fewer artists were doing this in Asia. However, Pacita took no issue with the public perception of her artwork and was never concerned about artificial painting classifications and her decision to bridge craft and art was a conscious one. Pacita always considered herself first and foremost a painter who freely blurred artistic boundaries.
EXPLORING THE SPIRIT AND THE SENSES The following passage is an abridged version of “Exploring The Spirit and The Senses” essay in Exploring the Spirit (1996) by Ian Findlay-Brown, which discusses Pacita’s abstract trapunto paintings. The world of Pacita Abad's art has been created from a dynamic awareness of the infinite drama of color and a profound desire to experiment with the raw materials of life. Her eloquent and vibrant art is deeply personal, yet it also speaks of universal concerns, giving voice to the conflicts that make up an individual's quest for life. To be confronted by Abad's paintings is to remove oneself immediately from all the conventional frames of reference that one has taken for granted about art. There are so many visual and emotional experiences wrapped up in her work that to attach a single genre term to it would be to inhibit the experience of learning and enjoying her art. Abad's paintings are strongly influenced by the multicultural world in which she lives, yet she both synthesizes and transcends specific ethnic backgrounds to express her concerns in a highly individualistic style. The nature of Abad's work is wide-ranging, from pure abstraction and narrative figurative creations to art, which appears closely associated with naive and primitive tendencies. Abad's artistic development can be divided into four diverse series — Socio-Political, Nature, Masks and Abstract — each characterized by a shift in subject matter and painterly style, and each completed in overlapping periods.
The physical scale of Abad's work ranges from small, intimate works on canvas to extremely large, occasionally multi-paneled, trapunto works (from the Italian trapungere, meaning to sew and stuff) where the images are created through the juxtaposition of a wide variety of materials — paint, mirrors, yarns, buttons, and glass, for example — on canvas or silkscreen. Equally various are Abad's changes in direction and style, yet at no time does the viewer feel uncomfortable with them. And though color and emotion are powerful unifying forces within her art, Abad's entire oeuvre is thoroughly based on a profound perception of the real world and vital personal experiences. With each facet of her work, the viewer has expectations of continuity and freshness as well as change. Through her understanding of the nuances and the impact of color and her consequent imagery, Abad encourages the viewer to pull from her work that which fits their own unique spirit and perceptions. Though a painting or trapunto may be lighthearted as in her abstract works such as Jane’s Addiction (1988) and Helmut 's Cosmic Shoes (1985), Abad is not intent on forcing her views or being judgmental. The viewer confronted by such work must be able to "see" beyond the surface to make their own choices and so, through considered selection and association enrich their own identity and, perhaps, change a little. Abad's development as an artist is dealt with primarily through her Abstract series created in different mediums. Along with her narrative works, she has, over the past twenty-five years, constantly experimented with color and textures in a variety of ways. "I enjoy playing with colors. I respond to my materials, issues and environment immediately through color and I always put great energy into creating abstract work. It is uncontrollable especially when I am in my studio and music is in the background. I like to experiment in different media and this is easily achieved when you are working on abstract works." While much of Pacita Abad's work might appear to be simply intuitive, this is deceptive; she is a highly trained professional continually honing her skills through study and travel. Abstraction and figurative sophistication sit
untroubled side by side with folk and naive art within Abad's work as each section â&#x20AC;&#x201D; A Passion for Color, Expanding the Surface, Oriental Abstractions, and Abstract Emotions â&#x20AC;&#x201D;clearly shows. Her background, discipline and a willingness to experience life to the full, have shown her to be "a painter who paints from the guts." Abstraction best exemplifies Abad's search for dramatic vision. Here she seems to immerse herself and her emotions completely into the process. There is nothing tentative about her finished work; it beckons the viewer with its considerable visual power, demanding to be looked at, insisting on being noticed. As Abad says "Although I have done a tremendous amount of figurative, naturalistic and social commentary paintings, all along I have been working on abstract works incorporating different influences, experimenting with techniques, colors, textures and surfaces." This statement, however, does not do justice to either the forcefulness of her work or its textural richness.
A Passion for Color It is with color that one begins with Abad's abstract paintings. A Passion for Color is revelatory not only of her character, but also of her views on art. Abad's early introduction to color, and its importance and total influence on her art, came from her early home life in which prudence was a spur to experimentation, both personal and creative. Abad speaks of color with a passion, at times almost as if it were the center of her life-nothing in her world can be disconnected from it. "Color, lives in my mind," she says. "Very early on, I liked to work with colors because it made me happy. Interestingly, back home, we never wore black. Color is a way of life for me. It is not only in my work but in everything I do." "Color has to do with my personality - bold, strong and crude. When I fix my house, it is by design, but when I paint the colors just spontaneously flow from my palette. Sometimes I challenge myself by restricting the numbers of
colors. I never have, or seem to have, a problem when it comes to choosing shades for my painting. It seems to come so naturally.” Color raises Abad's consciousness of art as integral part of any given culture and personal identity. In the Philippines she noted she would be painting differently than she would in Peru, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Jordan or New York. The power of color is at the very heart of her artistic experience and is the quality that immediately attracts the viewer. It is also through strong colors — vibrant yellows, blues, greens, reds and browns —that Abad explores the spirit and uses it to enhance the physical world around her. It is such a sensibility that, while she loves the wash of watercolor, she rejects pastel colors for they lack the intensity she requires to give voice to her painting.
Expanding the Surface Expanding the Surface features paintings covering the period 1982-1996. Here Abad shows clearly just how powerful the effect trapunto has on her painting. Many of Abad's trapunto paintings are large, which adds significantly to the drama that unfolds from them. There is at times a theatrical quality to the work which obliges us to try to see beyond the mere surface textures and into the spiritual heart of the work. Maria’s Hair (1993), with its dyed yarn and cheese cloth, Butones (1988), and Blue Buttons (1988), amply demonstrate trapunto's three-dimensional power in her art which is achieved, not only in painterly terms but, through Abad's skillful use of varied materials. By using so many different kinds of materials in her work, she runs the risk of subverting her intended purpose, whether it be narrative or purely abstract. That this confusion does not happen is testament not only to Abad's rich visual vocabulary and artistic skill, but also to her seemingly innate ability to clarify and to orchestrate her ideas beyond the flat twodimensional surface of oil on canvas. By manipulating the surfaces and varied textures she is able to achieve startling results, but it is not the only challenge she faces with her materials. To succeed in transmitting her ideas the painting must demand greater
attention and scrutiny from the viewer who is, in essence, the eye that completes the work. For Abad, however, surface is not only that which can readily be seen, but also that which is "underneath" the work. "It could be the cotton tilling I did, or it could go all the way to the framing. I notice that if I use a carved wooden frame it looks good, but I know that if I cover the frame with materials, whether batik, ikat or tie dye, it enhances the work and makes it more attractive and complete. And it could go even further than that, such as an installation that takes the paintings off the wall, as I did in my Underwater series. Most of the works I had in that exhibition were hanging from the ceiling. But for the most part, what I am talking about is a relief, it is multi-dimensional." Not all of Pacita Abad's works are destined to succeed and though many artists destroy works that they feel have not gone according to plan, such is not true in her case. Anything that does not immediately have the feel of completion is kept aside until she returns to it at a later date; often to incorporate the piece into another work. "I rarely say a painting doesn't work, I just say it is not good today but it might be good for tomorrow." Everything is possible in Abad's art, nothing is wasted, nothing is too inconsequential for artistic consideration, and nothing is ever discarded. All material has its eventual uses; nothing is too common for it not to prevail upon the spirit and the senses. The idea of learning from others on a broad front. as well as being possessed by a robust faith in the spontaneity of the creative self, allows Abad the freedom to bring such things as graffiti, masks, mirrors, thread, glass, cotton filling and plastic buttons into play in her work. "That is how I want it to be, it is as if my painting is talking to me three dimensionally."
Oriental Abstractions Oriental Abstractions goes some way to defining the responsibility Abad feels towards her role as an artist. Dabbling for a week or two in a new medium or technique and then discarding the experience is not for her. She often takes on the role of both student and the practitioner once she begins
to investigate a new medium or technique. In Korea in 1983, she decided to study Korean brush painting and it was to prove a vitally important technique in her work, allowing her once more to move beyond the perceived limitations of a traditional style. Oriental Abstractions deals with the period 1983 to 1992 and is purely nonfigurative, the original image being a rice stalk. Abad had never intended to begin such a series, but, when she did so, through a master in Seoul, she discovered the demands of recreating studies of the same design day after day. As she took the simple image of the rice stalk and developed it "over and over again, I decided to challenge myself to do the same design on canvas and see how far I could go. From those hundreds of paper studies, I eventually created thirty trapunto paintings with an average size of two by three meters." This was a test for Abad's desire to extend the limits of one subject. It was not to be simply through the application of paint on canvas, but also by using yarn, mirrors and buttons on the limited design. The simplicity of the rice stalk is clear, but the manner and complexity in which Abad has developed it has produced some remarkable results. Though there are many similarities in technique with her narrative trapunto paintings, there were certain essential changes that took place in the ten years during which she developed this abstract technique. "I provoked myself to be very creative with a single subject matter that was so difficult for me. It was an exercise too, in the use of the brush, how far you could go with one image. As I apply more materials and trapuntoed it, the surface became more painterly until I was no longer conscious of the rice stalks which became completely abstract. The only thing Asian about this series is the title," says Abad, who adds also that it was another opportunity for her to explore color, moving from the simplicity of two colors to the lyrical complexity of many. Moving from the combination of two colors â&#x20AC;&#x201D; brown and yellow â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on canvas, Abad quickly developed the line of the design into the abstract forms of such things as insects. Grasshopper (1991) and Caterpillar (1991) retain the "same minimal colors which are green and brown," but bit by bit Abad
advanced the complexity of the images by adding little touches of color in the corners, as well as filling in the spaces with other colors. The works are all trapuntoed, the yellow parts of Caterpillar are done with buttons. Andes (1988) has a richer variation of color yet retains a feeling of the original line of the first rice stalk. Spider's Web (1987) suggests a rich jumble of webs, while others such as I Want Something in Yellow (1990) and Assaulting the Eye with Ecstasy (1984) have a curious, almost woven basket effect. The play of these circle and square, the octagonal and ellipse shapes is strikingly hypnotic. While many works suggest motifs for stained glass, there are a few, including Daydream (1988) and Blue Mood (1992), that move beyond the graphic and become more abstract. Even though there may seem to be only blunt repetition within the works, there is an eerie rhythm to such works as Freedom from Illusion (1984), To Die For (1990) and Red Ant (1987). While the graphic sense of Abad's bark paintings suggest a more consciously controlled approach to line and color, the works that make up Oriental Abstractions are imbued with their own similar sense of place, but not with the feeling for the narrative that one finds in the bark paintings.
Where Abad's Oriental Abstractions is more about the exploration of technique and developing one design until it is transformed into an abstraction of its original self, the paintings of Abstract Emotions, which cover the decade 1985 to 1995, are expressions of emotional loss and change. In these Abad is not concerned with design. "I was literally working on it as a trapunto technique-paint, collage, assemble and build up the surfaces, bringing it all together with personal details." Although the works are thoroughly abstract, filled with powerful personal emotions, they are very different from the rest of Abad's work. In these pieces Abad suggests that she is becoming stronger as a person, able to open up more emotionally. For all her laughter and sense of fun, Abad has a streak of sadness about her to which she alludes in this series.
Many of her titles â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Shouts and Murmurs (1995), Torment (1991), Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s All Over Now (1987) and Emotional Rescue (1991) hint at raw emotion, with a touch of melancholy. In much of her work Abad is the consummate observer. "When my mother died in 1991 all of a sudden I realized I was an orphan. It made me understand how close I was to my mother who was a very practical and accomplished person." In Abstract Emotions she reveals herself as a participant in life and knows it as a painful ordeal. Blue (1992), though mostly yellows, greens and reds, is a large work deceptive in its lyricism. Shouts and Murmurs, a large work, has a subtle combination of batik and oil. While the colors are all blues and purples with the image mostly circles, it is a strangely contemplative piece. Emotional Rescue (1991) is pictorially and emotionally very similar to Blue; the arrangement of color suggests a group of people close together, struggling to find their own space and to cling to an identity that is under threat. Goodbye George (1991), made up of bits and pieces of collaged and stitched painted materials, is also about loss. A close look at this work reveals a female figure in the top part of the painting waving goodbye. This figure is one of the few in all of Abad's work through which she evokes a sense of raw loneliness and longing. Perhaps the figure is Abad herself, now alone, waving goodbye to her parents.
The journey into artistic maturity and self-realization is a constant one for an artist. Pacita Abad is only too aware of this for she is a "serious, compulsive, disciplined artist who works relentlessly at her paintings until "I am happy with myself." She loves to paint yet feels she does not have enough time and therefore has to be disciplined. She says that is easy because " I love to stay in my studio. I always feel good when I am in my studio because you don't have anything else to think about other than the image in front of you. Just being there in front of a blank canvas is like starting all over again. You wonder how you are going to start again and the experience makes you humble and clean."
Abad's life is much like her work and her hectic journeys are full of the demands of the search for perfection that her creativity imposes. She is constantly questioning and absorbing the new and the old, combining varied, visual, psychological and social ideas to create new ones that will energize her inventiveness and prod her native instincts into making work that will inspire and inform. Understanding the past and present is neither simple nor merely intuitive for any artist: it requires hard work, a dedication to constantly searching for it in any way possible. Yet for Abad there is simplicity in connecting the past and the present that is deceptively subtle and powerful. Behind the chaos of abstraction and the narrative of her figurative work there is a hidden simplicity lurking behind all of it. For Abad, continuing to educate herself is an important part of the whole process of being an artist. Whether it is through formal study or travel, education is a constant in her life and it shows both in her work and the techniques she has acquired and used. It offers her opportunities to reveal more of herself. "I think education and travel are constructive ways of learning. I want to assimilate as much as I can in the realm of art," she says, "whether it is ceramics, computer art, sculpture, filmmaking, costume and theater design or printmaking." In many ways constant searching has set Abad free from the confines of a single defining style, never seeing herself solely either as a figurative or an abstract artist, preferring simply to be "seen as a painter" whose work is "very informative, a narrative." Pacita Abad has succeeded in this. Her work reveals an artist at ease with various forms through which she seeks to redefine constantly her vision of the world without prejudice. Her experience and the exposure of her art elevate the notion of learning, taking it out of the context of the academy or the school and into "real life." It is through such intellectual openness that she is able to permit bold exploration in painting. This search is a very different one from that accomplished through drawing, which she sees as a limiting experience. In
painting, she requires flexibility "It is important to learn that you are able to make it mauve instead of red, or any other color. I did not like the restriction of drawing and even on paper I went back to my usual thing, bold colors." Although feminist undertones permeate Abad's work, she sees herself as a deeply passionate artist, somewhat removed from the contemporary political correctness of feminist artists. Her views define her independence: "I always see myself as a painter, not as a woman painter. Many feminist groups in the United States, even in Asia, come to me and ask me that question, or say 'your painting is so feminine' because it involves needlepoint," says Abad. "I never think that way. I always think of myself as a painter although I admire many women artists such as Leni Riefenstahl, Frida Kahlo, Kathe Kollwitz and Georgia O'Keefe, it has never occurred to me that I am a woman painter." In Abad's statement that she is not a feminist artist, there is the unstated impression that she is not a political person. This could not be further from the truth for someone who opposed Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and painted the poignant Portraits of Cambodia, which highlights the pain and turmoil of displacement and incarceration and Immigration series, which gives voice to immigrants' concerns in the United States. She is, as she says, "very socially conscious. My academic background is in Asian history and political science and my family background is very political. I have always been interested in issues that concern people, especially the underprivileged. So yes, I am quite political." There is much about Abad's work that sets it apart from that of other contemporary artists. Though it may be connected through color and ideas, her work can never be said to be repetitive, even in an artist as prolific as Abad. Excessive productivity in an artist is often viewed suspiciously by others, suggesting to them that perhaps the artist is not serious or is simply being commercial. The argument between being considered a "real" artist apparently suffering for their creativity and a "commercial" one is of no concern to Abad. "I see myself as an independent artist who is trying to express myself and make a living so that I do not have to depend upon
anybody," says Abad. "Artists cannot afford to have the attitude that they just paint and forget about the rest of the world. I look at this as a way of life, it is much more than a nine-to-five job and, even though I paint longer hours, I truly enjoy it." Abad has the ability to look at her work critically and this has helped her to change direction positively and to place herself in situations that allow her the space to create as she wishes. "I have observed over the past twenty years that climate and cultural surroundings have had a major impact on my outlook and my painting. When I was living in Washington D.C., a friend of mine told me that my colors were losing intensity. Right then and there, I knew it was time for me to get back to my tropical roots. Now I live in Indonesia and, I am strongly most attracted to the richness of the cultural traditions and the vibrancy and vitality of the people in Asia. Being back in Asia has also given me more time to focus and concentrate on my painting." Abad is a thoroughly cross-cultural artist whose willingness to explore and accept new ideas and skills is of vital importance to her continuing development as a painter. While some might balk at taking on new challenges, Abad welcomes them, meeting them head on and with a sense of commitment that is extraordinary. "I am continuously looking for ways to expand my skills and to develop my art. And this comes from dedicated work, being open to surrounding cultures and issues and also not being afraid to experiment and make mistakes." Ian Findlay-Brown is the founding editor/publisher of Asian Art News and World Sculpture News
ORIENTAL ABSTRACTIONS Pacita was inspired to start her Oriental Abstractions series of large, abstract trapunto paintings after she went to Seoul, Korea in 1983. She was fascinated with the country and its rich cultural heritage and spent time walking the alleys of Insadong, the city’s artistic center. It was there that she met a Bhuddist monk who showed her his traditional ink paintings, and encouraged her to learn how to use ink and brush on paper. “When I was in Seoul for a few weeks, I decided to learn Korean brush painting. I looked around for an instructor, who was willing to take a beginner like me and with the help of a Korean painter I found my master. The trouble was that I had only a few weeks to learn what his students took years to accomplish. I vividly remember how we kept on applying black ink and painting one image, rice stalks, over and over again, hundreds of copies of the same image.” Pacita was in a class with seven other art students who were seriously working on mastering their carefully drawn brushstrokes under the watchful eye of the teacher. Again and again and again, slowly making the same strokes in black ink. She was not used to doing anything slow, so she would fill ten pieces of paper with her rapid brush strokes, while all of the others were still on their second piece of paper. Very soon the teacher gave up and moved her to a table by herself and let her paint rice stalks. It was a torturous two weeks for Pacita doing the same thing all day, every day.
However, Pacita soon developed a plan to beat the system.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;After the session my classmates would discard their paper, but I kept mine as I liked the texture. One night I went back to the hotel and put the day's paper studies in the bath tub. I let the ink flow to overlap the rice stalk design. When they dried out the next day I started applying colors, combinations of orange and green, purple and yellow, red and orange, brown and yellow.â&#x20AC;? From then on her work became two sessions, one in the class painting ink on paper, and the second in the hotel room painting and playing with the paper.
Freedom from illusion (study), 1984 (18 x 27 in) Acrylic, black ink on handmade paper
“After two weeks at the school, I showed my teacher the 100 rice stalk sketches that I had washed and painted in different colors. He was so astounded that he asked his students, the other art teachers and even the nearby shopkeepers to come and see my work. This was the beginning of my Oriental Abstractions series, which I developed on canvas during the following years.” When she returned to her studio, Pacita couldn’t wait to start putting her paper sketches onto canvas and she enthusiastically attacked her first painting, Freedom from Illusion. A few weeks later, the painting was finished but she thought it was too flat so she decided to make it into a trapunto. Freedom from illusion, 1984 (75 x 81 in) Oil, painted cloth, stitched on padded canvas
She continued this process over the next few months and then had an idea to try something different. She thought that if the students in Seoul spent so many days trying to get exactly the same brush strokes, perhaps she could screenprint her canvases and then add different color combinations. She was excited to try this new approach and found someone who could screenprint her large canvases. However, what she thought would be a simple exercise turned out to be a lot more complicated. She then spent a few weeks working with screenprinters who had never produced artwork on canvas before. Manila sunset (study), 1984 (17 x 26 in) Acrylic, black ink on handmade paper When the printing was complete, Pacita brought 30 rolls of screenprinted canvas back to her studio. However, she couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t conceal her disappointment when she hung them on her studio walls. The black strokes were too dominant and the variety of colors she used appeared muted. On top of that, it bothered her that the screenprinted canvas was so flat. It was then she realized that in order to save her silkscreen project, she was going
to have to completely repaint each and every screenprinted canvas and make them into trapuntos. Over the next few years this is exactly what she did: painting two or three canvases in short spurts, and then starting the next canvases a few months later. As a result, for years she always had a number of rolled screenprinted canvases in her closet which she would take out and paint whenever she felt like working on them. Thus, although the paintings in this series may have a similar look and feel, they continually evolved in terms of color combinations, designs and embellishments. Often Pacita would go back and enhance some of her Oriental Abstractions paintings years after she considered them finished.
Palay exhibition at Montclair State University Gallery, 2001
Papaano Kami Ngayon (study), 1984 (14 x 26 in) Oil Acrylic, ink on handmade paper
Interlocked, 1984 (13 x 26 in) Gouache, ink on handmade paper
Papaano Kami Ngayon, 1984 (42 x 108 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, broken mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Night watch, 1985 (55 x 103 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
The gold, the glitter, the colors you used to know, 1984 (41 x 107 in) Acrylic, buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Knowledge, taste and fantasy, 1988 (41 x 105 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Assaulting the eye with ecstasy, 1984 (74 x 80 in) Acrylic, embroidery, buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
To paint thinking every place is green, 1991 (82 x 58 in) Acrylic, buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To paint in ecstasy, 1985 (79 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, mirrors on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Intense, 1992 (85 x 59 in) Oil, acrylic on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Ecstasy, 1990 (79 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Day dream, 1988 (82 x 58 in) Oil, plastic buttons, mirrors on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Quintana, 1987 (87 x 60 in) Acrylic, wooden yarn on silk screened, stitched on padded canvas
Yellow spider, 1990 (79 x 56 in) Acrylic, buttons, mirrors on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
I think of Mexico, 1987 (82 x 57 in) Acrylic, mirrors, yarn, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched on padded canvas
To paint with a twist, 1991 (81 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To paint with someone, 1990 (81 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, mirrors on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To fall and rise again, 1985 (111 x 82 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To paint for freedom, 1990 (111 x 82 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To paint and wait for you, 1990 (111 x 82 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Red bug, 1985 (78 x 56 in) Acrylic, mirrors, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Dreaming in color, 1988 (84 x 60 in) Oil, buttons, glass, gold yarn on silk screened, stitched on padded canvas
I want something in yellow, 1990 (81 x 56 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Butterfly, 1985 (78 x 55 in) Acrylic, oil, painted cloth, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Blue lotus, 2001 (34 x 24 in) Oil, buttons stitched on canvas
Bumble bee, 1985 (82 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Grasshopper, 1985 (82 x 59 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Rapture, 1992 (83 x 57 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, mirrors on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To paint for you, 1992 (83 x 59 in) Oil, acrylic, buttons, beads, mirrors, painted handwoven cloth on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
To die for, 1994 (82 x 57 in) Acrylic, oil, painted cloth, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Blue mood, 1990 (83 x 58 in) Acrylic on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Andes, 1988 (113 x 83 in) Acrylic, cowrie shells on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Spider web, 1985 (70 x 104 in) Acrylic, cotton yarn, plastic buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Bilog-bilog, 1986 (102 x 71 in) Acrylic, buttons and mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Colored bamboo screen, 1985 (103 x 69 in) Acrylic, mirrors, buttons on stitched and padded canvas
ABSTRACT EMOTIONS Pacita’s trapunto paintings are fused with a range of emotions from bubbling happiness to melancholy sad and ocasionally anger and outrage. Aided by the music blasting in her studio, she poured her feelings and emotions into every canvas she painted. She said, “I always paint with music in my studio, not classical music but the blues, jazz or hard rock. Music helps me get into the flow of my painting and the type of music I select, or the singer I want to listen to depends upon my mood. The music only intensifies my feeling. Most times I am happy, but sometimes I am not. An example of this was the death of my mother in 1991, which had a strong emotional impact not only on my life, but also on my art. Many of the paintings that I created that year dealt with the pain and loss of loved one.” Pacita particularly liked to work on very large canvases because the size allowed her complete freedom to use her paints, brushes, cloth and embellishments in any way she wanted. “No constraints” was the way she wanted to paint and to live her life. She stated, “At times my mind is racing and my brush is trying to keep up with my feelings. I become like a "Whirling Dervish" and almost trancelike lose all sense of time and what or who's around me. I like the idea of being provoked and doing paintings with an element of surprise and at the same time shock. It gives me physical pleasure just letting my palette of oil, or
whatever medium I use, wander and spread color over the surface. I become totally absorbed with the creative activity and I get a sense of satisfaction when there is an easy flow of colors that goes with my emotions.â&#x20AC;? Pacita first started her abstract trapunto paintings after noticing the peeling paint on the walls in many parts of Manila. Thus, her series began with Sampaloc Walls and Walls of Santa Mesa. A while later she came across a bag of rags that she had used to clean her brushes, which she used to paint and sew onto her canvas. She then called the painting Trapo, which means rags in Tagalog. A big breakthrough came when she started her painting Helmutâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cosmic Shoes (1985), inspired by a German friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passion for outrageous shoes. One pair of shoes even had rhinestones, so Pacita decided to embellish her painting by adding buttons and mirrors. She liked the effect and would continue to use these and other materials on her future trapuntos. Over the next 15 years Pacita continued to work on her large abstract trapunto paintings and ocasionally created a few smaller works as well. However, as always her paintings showed a bold use of color, cloth and often her signature embellishments of buttons, beads, mirrors and glitter.
Olympiad of Art at National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea, 1988, in front of Trapo.
Walls of Santa Mesa, 1985 (66 x 91 in) Acrylic, rick rack ribbons on stitched and padded canvas
Sampaloc walls, 1985 (71 x 98 in) Acrylic, mirrors, buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Liquid experience, 1985 (59 x 120 in) Oil, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Helmut cosmic shoes, 1985 (92 x 112 in) Acrylic, buttons, mirrors stitched on padded canvas
Trapo, 1986 (81 x 53 in) Acrylic, painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas
Upset, 1991 (69 x 69 in) Acrylic, oil, tie-dyed and painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas
Turmoil, 1991 (86 x 69 in) Acrylic, oil, painted cheese cloth, buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Huppa, 1988 (69 x 69 in) Acrylic, oil, painted cloth, cotton cord, plastic buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Torment, 1991 (79 x 59 in) Oil, mirrors stitched on padded canvas
I have desires, 1986 (91 x 61 in) Oil, buttons and mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Butones, 1988 (55 x 84 in) Acrylic, oil, buttons, mirrors stitched on padded canvas
Through the looking glass, 1996 (59 x 209 in) Oil, acrylic, sequins, plastic buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Pinoy passion, 1991 (108 x 75 in) Oil, plastic buttons, painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas
The sky is falling, the sky is falling, 1998 (118 x 106 in) Oil, plastic buttons and beads, painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas
Night of shooting stars, 1990 (89 x 98 in) Acrylic, buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Palengke, 1988 (81 x 98 in) Oil, mirrors, plastic buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Layers of earth, 1988 (93 x 48 in) Acrylic, buttons, mirrors, rhinestones, painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas
Fiesta, 1990 (93 x 57 in) Acrylic, sequins, plastic buttons, wooden beads and painted handwoven cloth on stitched and padded canvas
Day and night, 1996 (110 x 118 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Emotional rescue, 1991 (86 x 84 in) Oil, painted cloth, mirrors, plastic buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Blue lagoon, 1989 (98 x 56 in) Acrylic, buttons, gold yarn on stitched and padded canvas
Typhoon, 1990 (83 x 60 in) Oil, mirrors, plastic buttons on silk screened, stitched and padded canvas
Colorful nights, 1996 (110 x 59 in) Oil, mirrors, buttons stitched on canvas
You are so transparent, 1990 (42 x 120 in) Acrylic, oil, painted cloth, bark cloth, buttons on stitched and padded canvas
Left: Determination, 1990 (26 x 16 in) Oil, acrylic, painted cloth stitched on canvas Right: Leadership, 1990 (26 x 16 in) Oil, acrylic, painted cloth stitched on canvas
Left: Money, 1990 (26 x 16 in) Oil, acrylic, painted canvas stitched on canvas Right: Power, 1990 (26 x 16 in) Oil, acrylic, painted cloth stitched on canvas
Love you like an animal, 1988 (68 x 96 in) Oil, buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Orange and yellow, 1990 (29 x 91 in) Acrylic, yarn, cowrie shells, coconut shells stitched on padded canvas
More circles, 1990 (29 x 91 in) Acrylic, yarn stitched on canvas
Colorful nights, 2003 (5 x 5 in) Acrylic, glitter collaged on paper board
Heat wave (detail), 1990 (5 x 5 in) Acrylic, plastic buttons, mirrors, rhinestones, painted canvas on stitched and padded canvas
Hookerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s green, 1989 (35 x 33 in) Acrylic, oil, buttons, painted canvas on stitched and padded canvas
Janeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s addiction, 1990 (32 x 30 in) Acrylic, oil, plastic buttons, mirrors, painted canvas on stitched and padded canvas
Brown and wild, 1990 (26 x 31 in) Acrylic, painted canvas, plastic buttons, mirrors on stitched and padded canvas
Baguio fruit, 1981 (114 x 57 in) Oil, acrylic on stitched and padded canvas
Bulaklak, 1993 (89 x 54 in) Oil, acrylic, buttons, gold ornaments, yarn, mirrors stitched on padded canvas
ARTIST PROFILE The internationally known Philippine-American painter Pacita Abad (19462004) was born on Batanes, a small island in the South China Sea. Her 32-year painting career began when she had to leave the Philippines in 1969 due to her student political activism against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, and traveled to the United States to study law. However, a few years after receiving a Master of Arts degree in Asian History from the University of San Francisco she switched careers to dedicate her life to art. She then studied painting at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. and The Art Students League in New York City. Since that time Pacita never stopped being a gypsy artist and painted the globe while working on six different continents and traveling to more than 50 countries. During her career Pacita created over 5,000 artworks and her paintings were exhibited in more than 200 museums and galleries around the world. Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s travels significantly impacted her life and artistic style and were the inspiration for many of the ideas, techniques and materials that she incorporated in her paintings. Her journeys were also a tremendous crosscultural learning experience that made her acutely aware of the difficult lives that most women lead around the globe. They also heightened her sensitivity to the severe political, social, economic and environmental challenges she encountered across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Not surprisingly, as a socially concerned artist Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early socio-political paintings were of urban poor, displaced people, political violence, refugees
and immigrants in countries where she worked such as Bangladesh, Sudan, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the U.S. After her early social realism paintings, Pacita rejected the painterly emphasis on surface flatness, and sought ways to expand her painted canvases and make her work more sculptural. With the help of her sewing skills Pacita developed a unique, innovative painting style which she called trapunto painting, that fused her painted surfaces collaged with hand-stitched traditional materials, buttons, sequins, shells, mirrors and other found objects to blend with her signature strong colors. Her first series using this technique she called “Masks and Spirits” drawing on her travel experiences. Pacita created over 50 large, vibrantly colored, hand stitched and embellished trapunto paintings depicting masks and spirits from New Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa and the Americas. Her next artistic plunge was literally underwater, as Pacita created very large and colorful trapunto painting series based on her deep-sea scuba diving experiences throughout the Philippines. Inspired by nature’s beauty she simultaneously worked on a extensive series of flora and fauna paintings from the Australian Outback and Asia’s tropical gardens. Throughout her career her work was characterized by color, constant change and experimentation. Her most comprehensive and extensive body of work, which she focused on during the second half of her career are vibrantly colorful abstract, mixed media painted textile collages and assemblages inspired by her stays in Indonesia, Singapore, India and Yemen. Many are very large canvases, but also a number of small collages on a range of surfaces, as she continuously explored new mediums, techniques and materials including prints, paper, bark cloth, glass ceramic, steel and other mediums. Pacita also created a number of noteworthy public art installations such as her six-piece, Masks from Six Continents, in the main Washington, D.C. Metro Station; batik canvas collage titled Celebration and Joy installed at the Singapore Expo; large hand-stitched Zamboanga wedding tent adorned with native textiles called 100 Years Of Freedom: from Batanes to Jolo to celebrate
the Philippine Centennial; and just before she died the 55-meter long Singapore Art Bridge which she covered with over 2,000 colorful circles while undergoing treatment for cancer. Pacita's paintings were featured in solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong; Museum of Philippine Art and the Metropolitan Museum in Manila; Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand; Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic; Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke; National Center of AfroAmerican Artists, Boston; National Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Jakarta, Indonesia and the Hadeland Museum in Norway, among others. Pacita's work also appeared in numerous group exhibitions including: Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants, Bronx Museum; Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art, Asia Society, New York; Olympiad of Art (in conjunction with the 24th Olympics), National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea; 2nd Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan; La Bienal de la Habana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Habana, Cuba; Art for Africa, traveling exhibition to Oslo, Cologne, Algiers, London and Rome; UNESCO: 40 Years, 40 Countries, 40 Artists, traveling exhibition to 15 museums around the world; Filipino Artists Abroad, Metropolitan Museum of Manila; and At Home and Abroad: 21 Contemporary Filipino Artists, traveling exhibition to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston among others. Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings are now held in museum, public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries, and are regularly included in auctions by international auction houses. Among the museums that have collected Pacitaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings are: the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, Singapore Art Museum in Singapore, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, National Museum of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Museum Nasional of Indonesia, Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, Bronx Museum in New York and Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey.
Biodata Born: Batanes, Philippines, October 5, 1946 Died: Singapore, December 7, 2004 Studied at: Art Students League of New York, NY, 1977 Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. 1975 University of San Francisco, M.A. 1972 University of the Philippines, B.A. 1968 SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS Pacita held over 40 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in Asia, the U.S., Europe, Africa and Latin America 2006 “Pacita: Through the Looking Glass”, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, Singapore 2005 “A Passion to Paint”, The World Bank Galleries, Washington, DC “A Special Tribute to Pacita Abad - A Philippine-American Artist”, School of Economics, Singapore Management University, Singapore 2004 “Circles in My Mind”, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, curated by Prof. Rubén Defeo of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (catalogue) “Genomic Medicine and Population Health”, Artist-in-Residence with GENOME Institute of Singapore 2004 “Pacita’s Painted Bridge”, Robertson Quay, Singapore (catalogue) “Circles in My Mind”, AndrewShire Gallery, Los Angeles, California (catalogue)
2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
“Batik Dinnerware Collection”, Senayan Cafe, Jakarta “Circles in My Mind”, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Hadeland Museum, Hadeland, Norway (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Galleri Stockgard, Siuntio, Finland (catalogue) “Endless Blues”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Pulitzer Art Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Gallery Stockgard, Siuntio, Finland (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) "The Sky is the Limit”, Finale Art Gallery and SM Art Center Manila, Philippines (catalogue) “Palay” Montclair State University Art Galleries, New Jersey (catalogue) “Wayang Dinnerware Collection”, Koi Gallery, Jakarta (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Luz Gallery, Manila (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Bomani Gallery, San Francisco (catalogue) “Door To Life”, Gibson Creative, Washington, DC (catalogue) “Abstract Emotions”, National Museum, Jakarta (catalogue)
1998 1996 1995 1994 1994 1993 1992 1991 1989 1988 1986
“Abstract Emotions”, Hiraya Gallery, Manila (small works) “Exploring the Spirit”, National Gallery of Indonesia (catalogue) “Thinking Big”, curated by Cora Alvina, Metropolitan Museum of Manila “Postcards from the Edge”, Galleria Duemila, Manila “Twenty-four Flowers”, Liongoren Art Gallery, Makati, Philippines “Wayang, Irian and Sumba”, National Museum, Jakarta (catalogue) “The American Dream”, curated by Angela Adams National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (brochure) “Assaulting the Deep Sea”, curated by Mark Scala Art Museum of Western Virginia (brochure) “Assaulting the Deep Sea”, curated by Deborah McLeod Peninsula Fine Arts, Norfolk, Virginia (brochure) “Flower Paintings”, Philippine Center, New York, NY ”Abstract Emotions”, Philippine Center, New York, NY “Wild At Art”, Ayala Museum, Makati, Philippines “Trapunto Paintings”, Franz Bader Gallery, Washington, DC “Asian Abstractions”, Fables Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts “Oriental Abstractions”, curated by Michael Chen Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong (catalogue)
1986 1985 1984 1982 1981 1980 1979 1978 1977
"Assaulting the Deep Sea", Underwater installation at Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines “Batanes – Landscape and People”, curated by Ray Albano Cultural Center of the Philippines “A Painter Looks at the World”, curated by Arturo Luz Museum of Philippine Art (catalogue) “Scenes From the Upper Nile”, curated by Harriet Kennedy Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts “Portraits of Cambodia”, curated by Amy Lighthill Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (catalogue) “Streets of Santo Domingo”, curated by Isabel Caceres de De Castro Altos De Chavon, La Romana, Dominican Republic (catalogue) “Portraits of Cambodia”, curated by Daeng Chatvichai Promadhathavedi Bhirasri, Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand “Recent Paintings of the Sudan”, curated by Abdullah Shibrain Exhibition Hall, Khartoum, Sudan “Paintings of Bangladesh”, Dhaka, Bangladesh “Recent Paintings”, 15th Street Studio, Washington, DC
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS Pacita participated in more than 50 group and traveling exhibitions throughout the world. 2012 “BEAT” Exhibit, Lopez Memorial Museum Library, Pasig City, Philippines 2008 “The Sum of its Parts”, Lopez Memorial Museum Library, Pasig City, Philippines 2007 “The Big Picture Show“, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore 2006 “The Shape That Is“, Jendela Gallery, The Esplanade, Singapore 2004 "Crossings: Philippine Works from the Singapore Art Museum ", Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines 2004 “Global Entrepolis” by Singapore's Economic Development Board at Suntec City Singapore, Singapore “SingArt - A Brush With Lions”, Raffles Hotel, Singapore “TOYM Art Exhibit", Manila, Philippines (catalogue) 2003 “The Third Asia Women Art Exhibition”, Seoul, Korea “Seoul International Women’s Art Fair”, Seoul, Korea "Brown Strokes on a White Canvas, 2003" Eight Filipino-American Artists at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia and Harmony Hall, Fort Washington, Maryland “Philippine Exhibit”, Martin Luther King Library, Washington, DC
2002 2001 2001 2000 1999
"Sino-Filipino Contemporary Art", Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan (catalogue) “Spirited Faces: Painting in the Woman”, Gallerie Belvedere, Singapore “Singapore Art Fair 2002, “Suntec City, Singapore “Sky is the Limit installation”, curated by Valentine Willy The Esplanade, Singapore (catalogue) “Brown Strokes on a White Canvas”, World Bank Gallery and Foundry Gallery, Washington, DC “The Studio Portrait, A collaborative project by Carol Sun”, Bronx Museum, New York, NY “Mask: The Other Face of Humanity”, Sonobudoyo Museum Yogyakarta, Indonesia “Conversations with the Permanent Collection”, Bronx Museum, New York, NY "ARTSingapore 2000”, First Contemporary Southeast Asian Festival, MITA, Singapore “Luna: comic drama and art to wear”, directed by Gilda Cordero Fernando, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila ”Handmade: Shifting Paradigms”, curated by Tay Swee Lin, Singapore Art Museum (catalogue) "Women Beyond Borders”, a traveling exhibit organized by Lorraine Serena, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Southern California, Akino Fuku Museum, Japan, Tin Sheds Gallery University of Sydney,
Australia; Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney; Gallery Saigon, Vietnam; Gallery One, Tokyo, Japan 1999 1998 1997
"Global Woman Project 1999-2000”, curated by Claudia De Monte, traveling exhibit in the United States "Histories (Re)membered: Selections from the Permanent Collection”, Paine Webber Art Gallery, New York, NY "V'spartio (Very Special Arts)", Artfolio, Singapore and Osaka, Japan "At Home and Abroad: 21 Contemporary Filipino Artists”, traveling exhibition to Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Metropolitan Museum of Manila (Catalogue) “Woman”, Institute of Contemporary Art (PS.1), New York, NY “Bayan”, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines “The Gallery Artists, Part 2”, Brix Gallery, Manila, Philippines “New Asian Art”, Hong Kong Visual Arts Center, Hong Kong “World Batik Exhibition”, Ardiyanto Gallery, Yogyakarta, Indonesia “Filipino Artists Abroad”, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines “National Craft Acquisition Award”, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia “Talk Back! The Community Responds to the Permanent Collection”, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York, NY
1997 1996 1996
“8th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) “Book Art IV”, Luz Gallery, Makati, Philippines ”7th International Biennal Print and Drawing Exhibit”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) ”National Craft Acquisition Award”, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia “Memories of Overdevelopment: Philippine Diaspora in Contemporary Visual Art”, curated by Yong Soon Min and Alan de Souza, traveling exhibit to University of California Art Galleries, North Dakota Art Museum; Plug-In Gallery, Canada “Looking at Ourselves: The American Portrait”, curated by Laura Vookles, Hudson River Museum of Westchester in New York (brochure) “Eight Paths to a Journey: Cultural Identity and the Immigration Experience”, curated by Mel Watkin, Ellipse Gallery, Arlington, Virginia “Defining Ourselves”, curated by Anna Fariello, Radford University Galleries, Radford, Virginia “Contemporary Art of the Non-Aligned Countries”, curated by G. Sheikh T.K. Sabapathy, A. Poshyananda and Jim Supangkat, National Gallery of Indonesia (catalogue) “AKO, Filipino Self Portraits”, curated by Cora Alvina, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines
1995 1993 1993
“disOriented: Shifting Identities of Asian Women in America”, curated by Margo Machida Steinbaum Krauss Gallery and Henry Street Settlement Abrams Art Center, New York, NY “Beyond the Border: Art by Recent Immigrants”, curated by Betti Sue Hertz, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY (catalogue) “Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art”, curated by Margo Machida and organized by the Asia Society Galleries, NY - traveling to the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts, Hawaii; Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena, San Francisco MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts and Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Texas (catalogue) “TOUCH, Beyond the Visual”, curated by Angela Adams and Paula Owen - a traveling exhibitions organized by the Hand Workshop, Richmond, Virginia to include Sawtooth Center for the Visual Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, Danville, Virginia; Piedmont Arts Association, Martinsville, Virginia (catalogue) “Women’s Spirit with Pacita Abad, Hung Liu, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Howardena Pindell, Joyce Scott”, Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, California “Washington Project for the Arts at the Hemicycle”, curated by Marilyn Zeitlin Alan Prokop, Judy Jashinsky and Sammy Hoi, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC “Crossing Over/Changing Places”, curated by Jane Farmer, sponsored by USIA, a traveling exhibit in the United States and Europe including Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; Helsinki City Art Kunstmuseum, Denmark; National Gallery of Art, Athens; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (catalogue)
1991 1991 1990 1988 1986 1984
”Fiber: The State of the Art”, curated by Rebecca Stevens, Meyerhoff Gallery, Maryland Institute and College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland “Nine Paths to a Journey: The Immigrant Experience”, curated by Mel Watkin Ellipse Gallery, Arlington, Virginia (brochure) “Day of the Dead”, curated by Geno Rodriguez, Alternative Museum, New York, NY (brochure) “Art for Africa”, curated by Andre Parinaud, traveling exhibition to museums in Paris, Oslo, Cologne, Algiers, London and Rome ”Olympiad of Art”, curated by Ante Glibota, Pierre Restany, Thomas Messer and Uske Nakahara, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea (catalogue) “La Bienal de la Habana”, Museo Nacional de Belles Artes, Habana, Cuba (catalogue) “UNESCO: 40 Years, 40 Countries, 40 Artists”, curated by Andre Parinaud traveling exhibit in museums of 40 member countries (catalogue) “First International Print Bienale”, curated by Huang Tsai-lang, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (catalogue) “Asian Art Biennale”, curated by Syed Jahangir, National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh (catalogue) “Second Asian Art Show” curated by Nonon Padilla, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan (catalogue) “Three Faces in Philippine Art”, curated by Rod Paras Perez, BMW Gallery, Munich, Germany (catalogue)
“Sino-Filipino Modern Art”, Asia World Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan “Association of South East Asian Countries”, curated by Rod Paras Perez, a traveling exhibition to museums in South East Asian countries
COSTUME DESIGNS Pacita was involved as a costume designer for a number of collaborative Asian theater groups • “Luna: Comic Drama and Art to Wear”, theater extravaganza for the New Millennium with an all star cast of Filipino artists, models and performers produced by Gilda Cordero Fernando and directed by Manny Chaves, Cultural Center of the Philippines, 2000 • “Long After Love”, Pacific Bridge Theater, Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, 1992 • “Folktales of Lola Ita”, sponsored by Amauan, Applecore Theater, New York, NY 1988 WORKSHOPS AND LECTURES Pacita constantly gave workshops and artist talks to children, women and students across the world during her 32-year artistic career. 2004 “Painting the Globe” Artist Talk, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore "ArtSingapore 2004: Asian Contemporary Art, Where Are We Going From Here?" Artist Talk, Suntec City, Singapore "Paper Pulp and Print" Workshop for Globe Quest guest, in conjunction to the "Circles in My Mind" exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila
2004 2003 2002 2001
"Paper Pulp and Print" Workshop for Singapore Airlines guest, in conjunction to the "Circles in My Mind" exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila "Make-A-Wish Workshop" with Klein, a 9-year old PhilippineSingaporean boy who suffers from cancer “Collage Painting” Workshop, Tanglin Trust School, Singapore “Finns in Singapore Trapunto Painting” Workshop, Singapore “Contemporary Trends of Philippine Art Overseas”, talk given to docents at Singapore Art Museum “Trapunto Painting” Workshop, given to Scandinavian community in Singapore ”Trapunto painting”, Asian Civilization Museum Singapore “Collage Painting” Workshop, Tanglin Trust School, Singapore “Collage Painting” Workshop, Singapore Art Museum “Asian Contemporary Art”, Artist Talk, Singapore Art Museum “The Philippines: Prospects in Business and the Arts”, sponsored by Philippine Cultural Society at Hilton Hotel, Singapore “Trapunto Painting” Workshops given to members of Singapore Art Museum, Tanglin Trust students, talk and slide presentation given to American Club members in Singapore “The 9/11 Phoenix Project”, a collaborative Trapunto Workshop at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts that created a three muralinstallation with local artists from San Antonio, Texas
2000 1999 1998 1996 1995 1994
"Wayang Influences on Art”, lecture given to Indonesian Heritage Society, Jakarta, Indonesia Trapunto Painting workshops at the Tanglin Trust School, Singapore; Metropolitan Museum of Manila Artist Talk, Singapore Art Museum and LaSalle College of Art, Singapore Artist Talk, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Trapunto Painting Workshop, University of the Philippines and Metropolitan Museum of Manila Trapunto Painting Workshop, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta Trapunto Painting Workshop, Metropolitan Museum of Manila and British School in Jakarta, Indonesia "Artist + Community”, trapunto painting workshop given to schools in Maryland and Washington, DC (Savoy Elementary School, Thompson Elementary School, Oyster Bilingual School, Mabuhay Group) sponsored by the National Museum for Women in the Arts "Exploring America's Cultures: Asian American Art & Culture”, Columbia University Teacher's College, New York, NY "Cultural Identity: Evaluating Otherness”, Crafts and Ethics Symposium, Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Textile Museum mask-making workshop for Oyster Bilingual Elementary School students, Washington, DC
1992 1991 1991 1989
"Light in the Labyrinth”, painting workshop with patients with Alzheimer's to sharpen their remaining abilities, help maintain mind and motor skills and encourage independence, work with the Meridian Healthcare's FOCUS program “Potomac Craftsmen”, lecture on trapunto paintings, Washington, D.C Asian-American Pacific Heritage Council Conference, "Impact of Arts, Culture and Media on the Politics and Economics of Asian Pacific”, panel, Arlington, Virginia Philippine Arts, Letters and Media, Washington, DC trapunto painting workshop Pyramid Atlantic, "Asian Festival”, mural workshop for Asian children University of the Philippines, Trapunto Painting Workshop University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Art To Wear workshop Textile Museum, Washington, DC "Celebration of Textiles”, workshop George Washington University, Dimock Gallery in relation to the show, "Temples of Gold, Crowns of Silver”, lecture Art In Public Places, MetroArt II, Washington DC, Artist Talk MetroArt in Washington, Washington, DC, Artist Talk Imagination Celebration-Kennedy Center Mural Workshop New York State Council on the Arts, Lincoln Community Center, New York, NY, Trapunto Painting Workshop for Amauan members
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, taught two, three-month courses on trapunto painting Lectures given to students at schools and universities: Boston University; University of Massachusetts; College of Arts, Sudan; Dhaka College of Fine Arts in Bangladesh; public schools and colleges in Metropolitan Manila Lectures given to museums and other organizations: Shilpakala Academy of Fine Arts, Bangladesh; Bhirasri Museum of Modern Art, Thailand; Museum of Philippine Art; Cultural Center of the Philippines; Ayala Museum; World Affairs Council of Northern California; Jaycees and Rotary Clubs in the Philippines; and various women's organizations
AWARDS, GRANTS / FELLOWSHIPS Pacita received many awards, fellowships and artist residencies during her career • ALIWW “Parangal” Ateneo University, Manila, Philippines • GENOME Institute of Singapore, Singapore, artist-in-residence, 2004 • Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre, Marnay, France, artist-in-residence, 2003 • Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore, artist-in-residence, Visiting Artists Program, 2003 • Southwest School of Art and Craft, San Antonio, Texas, artist-in-residence, 2001 • Montclair State University, New Jersey, artist-in-residence, 2001 • Lindshammar, Sweden, Glass painting, Indra technique, artist-in-residence, 2001 • PAMANA NG PILIPINO Award for outstanding achievement in the arts, given by the President of the Philippines, Manila, 2000
• "Filipina Firsts”, a compendium of 100 Filipino women who have broken ground in their fields of endeavor organized by the Philippine American Foundation in Manila and Washington, DC, 1998 • Likha Award marking the Centennial of Philippine Independence, given in recognition of outstanding achievement, 1998 • Excellence 2000 Awards for the Arts, given by U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, 1995 • Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Artist Workshop Program, 1993-94 • OPUS B, a production company in Maryland creating collaborations between elders, inner-city youth and artists, artist-in-resident, 1993 • Virginia Center for Creative Arts, artist-in-resident, 1992, 1994, 1996 • Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking, artist-in-residence, 1991, 1992 and 1993 • Gwendolyn Caffritz Award, Pyramid Atlantic, artist-in-residence, 1991 and 1992 • MetroArt II Award, mural installed at Metro Center, Washington, DC 199095 • National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Fellowship, 1989-90 • DC Commission on the Arts, GIA Grant, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1991-92 • New York State Council on the Arts, Visiting Artist Program, 1988-89 • TOYM Award for the Most Outstanding Young Artist in the Philippines, 1984 • Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic, artist-in-residence, 1982
WORK IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS • Ayala Museum of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines • Bhirasri Museum of Modern Art, Bangkok, Thailand • Bronx Museum of the Art, Bronx, New York • Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines • Eugenio Lopez Museum, Manila, Philippines • Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan • Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, New Jersey • Jordan National Gallery of Fine Art, Amman, Jordan • Lopez Memorial Museum, Manila, Philippines • Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines • Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba • Museum and Art Gallery in the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia • Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, Massachusetts • National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia • National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. • National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea • National Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka • National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh • National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia • Singapore Art Museum, Singapore • Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
Fundaciรณn Pacita, Batanes