by Edith Newhall
Having exhibited Pat Steir's work for over a decade, Locks Gallery is proud to present this exhibition of new paintings that will be on view from May 2 through June 21, 2014. There will be an opening reception for the artist on Friday, May 2nd, from 5:30–7:30 pm.
Pat Steir is an acclaimed figure in contemporary art history, known for her site-specific wall drawings and signature style of abstract painting. In the studio, she pours, splashes, and drips paint onto vertically hung canvases. Steir's practice embraces chance as a conceptual backbone for her work; the paintings form themselves through gravity and transform their own palette through the chemistry of the paint layers. The artist was raised outside of Philadelphia and its cultural institutions had a deep influence on her early artistic trajectory.
In the Smithsonian Archives of American Art's oral history with Pat Steir, the artist recalls that, “I would leave school (or never arrive)... and go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I did it so often, sitting on the floor, spreading my books out on the floor, looking at the artwork, eating apples, that after a while the guards didn’t even chase me away.”
This reverence for art history is masterfully embodied in her work, which is loosely aligned with Conceptual Art and Minimalism, in dialogue with the New York School, and a product of her close study of Japanese and Chinese painting. Steir wove these references into her groundbreaking Waterfall paintings of the 1980s, which relied on chance-based application of materials but produced an evocative aesthetic result. Marked by their meditative quality, Steir’s recent work furthers her process through pre-determined sequences of paint pours. Utilizing smooth primed canvases, Steir’s intention is that the pigments “slide” over the surface, creating a fluid and seemingly organic effect.
Suggestive of numerous binary relationships that are central concepts to Chinese painting, her works are in conversation with both painterly history and the greater world. As Steir stated in a 2003 Bomb Magazine interview, “I’m walking a thin line between image and not image, between flat and deep space.”
As a quintessential American artist, Pat Steir’s work is thoroughly represented in major museum collections in the United States and in many international institutions. The artist currently lives and works in New York and Amsterdam and has been the focus of numerous solo museum exhibitions and site-specific wall installations.