Silverlens to showcase Pacita Abad trapuntos at Basel show of Art Basel 2021


Silverlens returns for the third time as the only Philippine gallery to participate in the Basel show of international art fair Art Basel next month, set to present the works of the late Filipino-American artist Pacita Abad.

The exhibition will focus on the artist’s late-life abstraction series Endless Blues, particularly her “trapunto” paintings. The style refers to Abad’s practice of stitching and stuffing her canvases with a range of objects to achieve a three-dimensional effect. The Basel show runs from September 21 to 26 at its staple venue of Messe Basel in Switzerland, with a VIP preview in the first two days.

“Silverlens presents a historically important artist for the first time to the discerning public of Art Basel,” the gallery’s statement reads. “A pluralist approach to image-making across cultures, histories and styles underpins Abad’s work throughout the decades, offering an informed and idiosyncratic global perspective on art-making as a cultural tradition rooted in many places at once.”

Abad (1946-2004) was born in Batanes to a political family. She had her eyes set on traversing the same path before becoming an active student-activist in law school opposing the Marcos regime. Due to rising political unrest, Abad’s parents urged her to leave Manila and finish her law degree in Europe.

Abad made a stop in San Francisco to visit a relative and decided to study there instead. It was in the US where Abad was introduced to the world of arts. After finishing her studies, she became an itinerant painter, picking up from her travels across the world inspirations, techniques and materials that would come to define her style.

Abad’s rich oeuvre contains 5,000 artworks characterized by vibrant color, experimentation and evolution. A bona fide global artist, she has produced artworks now part of public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries.

Artworks from the Endless Blues series that Silverlens will be presenting in the Basel show were produced in the early 2000s—a particularly challenging period for Abad. Effects of the tragedy of September 11 had affected her, while on a personal level the artist had been diagnosed with cancer.

In an excerpt of Abad’s 2014 book, also titled Endless Blues, the artist shared how she dealt with the difficulties.

“I turned inward and spent a lot of time in my studio painting and listening to my favorite blues music,” the line reads. “The result of course is that painting and listening to the blues was the best therapy. Like the blues, my paintings in this series are always strong, sometimes sad, a bit nostalgic and very colorful.”

The Basel show of Art Basel gathers close to 300 of the world’s top galleries. Silverlens’ Abad presentation will be under the Feature sector of the fair that highlights 20th- and 21st-century artists. The gallery previously presented the works of Maria Taniguchi in 2013 and Martha Atienza in 2017 under the fair’s Statement section, which is dedicated to spotlighting emerging artists. Aside from the Abad showcase, Silverlens will be presenting three contemporary artists through an online viewing room in OVR: Basel, the fair’s digital platform.

The featured artists include Pio Abad, Patricia Perez Eustaquio and Nicole Coson, who are all connected to Abad “either in form or in history,” according to the gallery’s statement. The three artists will be showing curatorially relevant pieces, including new works.

Image courtesy of Pacita Abad Estate via silverlens

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