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Pat Pendleton, Curious Evidence A Three-Decade Survey

On dispay at Artspace Gallery, August 4th thru August 31th.

Emily Dickinson’s line, “the nearest dream recedes” might come to mind as a viewer moves through the high white spaces of the Artspace gallery. Wistful poetics mixed with mindful narrative seem thematic connotations to the mixed media work on view.

Rather than aiming at a three-decade, full- scale exhaustive study she focuses on a few pieces from each 10 years span. A gentle “tour de force” or “tour of gentle forces” might describe Pat Pendleton’s survey of work from her earliest days as an art student thru itinerant years in San Francisco, New York and Colorado, to her present return to Buffalo. For young women artists, the lure of democratic promise and social fluidity following the 60s was in no way a trivial pursuit.

Pendleton’s work is a kind of visual archeology of Feminist cataclasis cataloging her post modern painterly influences resolutely and ambitiously. Dominant strong painters of the late post war era. Women such as Helen Frankenthaler, Susan Rothenberg; pacing introspection artists Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman. Pendleton’s works are primarily paint with collage often depicting organic forms and languid ribbon-like arabesques superimposing illustration and text to confuse, tease, instruct in ambivalent narrative, given to fey graphics and self-referential commentary but withal gracefully meditative—full of therapeutic affirmations, whimsical curiosities, in a kind of on-going auto-mythography using images to represent the emotional voice of the artist/poet.

It is in the last decade, since moving back to Buffalo, that she moves past the decorative late Oriental/ Victorian pastiche into a more sophisticated synthesis of East and West to reveal herself as an observer preternaturally sensitive to emotional chaos and keenly aware of the arbitrariness of suffering on the unsuspecting. Her “Curious Evidence”, leaves a viewer with a Haiku-like gauze of dreams that do not entirely recede.

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