Pacita Abad

Silverlens, Manila W2

Pacita Abad (b. 1946, Basco, Batanes; d. 2004, Singapore)

Pacita Abad was a Filipina-American painter whose pioneering work in textiles was characterised by vibrant colours and an accumulation of processes. During the 1970s, Abad developed a new technique, applying a quilting method onto her canvases, which were then layered with different materials. She called this technique ‘trapunto painting’.

Abad’s presentation for Woven will focus on a selection of trapunto paintings from her ‘Immigrant Experience’ series, produced in the early 1990s when the artist was living in Washington D.C. These works brought together the Social Realist inclinations of her early paintings with the trapunto technique that she was developing – presenting complex and kaleidoscopic depictions of the immigrant experience. Every stitch and painted surface evokes the overwhelming strangeness of a new place and its dizzying splendour. Within Abad's paintings are narratives of personal aspiration, shared suffering and common humanity that have gained renewed poignancy amidst the current political moment.

After fleeing the Marcos dictatorship in 1968, Abad lived in San Francisco, Bangladesh, Jakarta, Washington, D.C. and Singapore. Her itinerant life shaped a compassionate global outlook that preceded many of her contemporaries. Abad’s work was recently the subject of a survey at MCAD Manila and is part of the collections of Tate, London, the National Gallery of Singapore and M+ Museum, Hong Kong.