Pacita Abad’s never-before-seen trapuntos on exhibit
Artists, art connoisseurs, diplomats, and newsmakers gathered at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design at the opening night of “Pacita Abad: A Million Things to Say,” a retrospective exhibit of the late Filipino-American contemporary painter’s renowned and never-before-seen trapunto pieces.
Co-curated by her nephew, London-based contemporary artist Pio Abad, the show aims to deviate from self-exoticization and instead suggests a productive re-construction of her categories of self and her place in the history of art. The display likewise introduces serious examination of her body of work and its expansive contemporaneity.
The bone-white walls of the gallery serve as the perfect backdrop for the large-scale psychedelic trapuntos. The exquisite obra maestras, which seemed like oil paintings at first glance, reveal a three-dimensional form of art hand-stitched, padded, and quilted with swatches of precious hand-stitched textiles like the Indonesian ikat and batik gathered from her travels. Her artworks are adorned with accoutrements such as sequins, beads, shells, buttons, tiny mirrors, bits of tin and glass, rickrack, and rhinestones.
Abad’s major trapuntos are known for their vibrant colors, which evoked her life as a Southeast Asian woman, a Filipina traveling to other developing nations as an expat’s wife. Her life’s journey and experiences, crossing countries, economies and culture, were painted and stitched together in form of contemporary art ahead of her time.
The “Pacita Abad: A Million Things to Say” is on display until July 1.