Pacita Abad (1946-2004) was born in Basco, Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan. Her more-than-thirty-year painting career began when she journeyed to the United States to undertake graduate studies. After that trip, Pacita never stopped traveling or painting. She studied painting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and The Art Students League in New York City, and then started to “paint the globe”, living on 5 different continents and working in more than 80 countries. Pacita’s extensive travels to exotic destinations like Guatemala, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Indonesia had a major impact on her life and art, and were the inspiration for many ideas, techniques and materials in her paintings.
Pacita’s painting is characterized by constant change, experimentation and development from the 1970’s, right up until her passing. Her early paintings were primarily figurative socio-political works of people and primitive masks. Another series was large scale paintings of underwater scenes, tropical flowers and animal wildlife. Pacita’s most extensive body of work, however, is her vibrantly, colorful abstract work – many very large scale canvases, but also a number of small collages – on a complete range of materials from canvas and paper to bark cloth, metal, ceramics and glass. A disciplined and prolific painter, Pacita created over 3,500 artworks and even painted a 55-meter long bridge in Singapore and covered it with 2,350 multicolored circles.
Pacita constantly experimented with ideas that moved her beyond the confines of the traditional two-dimensional surface by developing trapunto painting, a technique of stitching and stuffing her painted canvases to give them a three-dimensional sculptural effect. She then began an almost magical process of transforming the surface of her paintings with materials, such as traditional cloth, mirrors, beads, shells, plastic buttons and other objects, which she synthesized with bold colors to create uniquely individualistic pieces of art. Underlying all of Pacita’s work is a vivacious spirit, vibrant originality and a volcano of color. Her works are all about life and pursuing dreams, they are full of purpose, nothing tentative, and they are drawn from her personal experiences. Like the artist’s life, Pacita’s paintings are a celebration of pure passion, joy and color that come straight from her heart.
A truly global artist, Pacita had over 40 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. She also participated in more than 50 group and traveling exhibitions throughout the world. Pacita’s work is now in public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries.