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Pat Adams Paintings: 1954 - 2004


Zabriskie Gallery is pleased to announce Pat Adams Paintings: 1954 – 2004, a survey exhibition marking the fifty-year association between Pat Adams and Virginia Zabriskie. Their friendship exemplifies the mutual respect and support that characterize the significant relationship between an artist and her gallerist. These small and medium sized paintings, all first exhibited at Zabriskie Gallery, offer a summary of the various pictorial themes developed in the artist’s long engagement with abstraction.

When Pat Adams and Virginia Zabriskie began working together, the powerful currents of New York School painting were sweeping large gestural abstraction into the forefront of modernism. This was not Adams’ way of painting. An art major at Berkeley, Adams’ broad education had included the humanities and sciences and this opened her curiosity toward both the experimental and the empirical. In a 1954 New York Times review, Stuart Preston described her as “an impressionist of the inner eye, responding to light, and growth and change in the visual world.” Six years later in the same newspaper, Dore Ashton described the artist as an “intimist in the same esthetic line as Redon, Wols, and Tobey” who “seeks to find and describe what is ‘within’ the inmost secrets of the universe.”

Adams has continued pursuing a personal vision in paintings that bridge the chasm between private and public concerns. Her use of geometric shapes reflects an appreciation for the aesthetic forms with which different cultures address transcendent phenomena. Yet, the carefully considered lines and the attention to the details in her compositions make the familiar mysterious and bring the inchoate into apprehension. The pictures take nothing for granted as is evident in the encrusted shapes given literal body through ground shell or mica. These passages of tactile brilliance, fixed to the surface float in an amplitude of dense space. As Donald Kuspit wrote in Artforum in 1992, “Adams is trying to articulate a sense of ineffable ecstasy through basic modernist means, indicating that their evocative magic is far from exhausted.”

Pat Adams paintings are in many public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Yale University Art Gallery. A catalogue with an essay by Martica Sawin accompanies the exhibition.

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