April 19

Admiring Abstraction

The newest exhibit at Pivot Art + Culture examines how artists use color and pattern to illustrate the world around them.

Hues of strawberry red, forest green, and sky blue cover the large white walls of the new exhibition Color and Pattern, captivating the space and demanding the viewer’s attention.  A diverse array of drawings, sculpture, and ceramics are displayed from artists such as Robert Delaunay, Spencer Finch, and Sam Francis, to name a few. Pieces span 100 years from 1912 to 2012. The exhibit is intended to serve as a launching point for the question: What is abstraction?

Until now, most of the exhibitions from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection could be recognized as representational rather than abstract. Representational art depicts objects or events in the natural world, whereas abstraction portrays unidentifiable subjects that are free to the viewer’s interpretation.

Greg Bell, Pivot + Art Culture’s senior curator, excitedly talks about the process of putting the show together. “It was interesting to look at what abstraction means,” Bell says. “When people think about abstraction, there’s often this natural tendency to say, ‘I don’t understand it. I understand painting and realism and post-impressionist work.’”

The pieces are not organized by year or artist, instead they’re arranged by complementary color-colors that correspond together and bring out the hues in the pieces surrounding them-known in the art world as, simultaneous contrast.  Bell’s hope is that visitors will make the connection between these intentional relationships as they make their way through the exhibit. “There isn’t a true narrative to the story,” Bell says. “It’s more about the way things fit together visually.”

To illustrate his point, Bell walks over to a wall displaying some pieces by Wassily Kandinsky 1924, Sam Francis 1953, and Mark Rothko 1956. Standing back and observing these pieces, Bell talks about how these colors in these works complement each other, creating a recognizable pattern and relationship as the viewer moves from one piece to the next. The exhibit caters to those with a diversified eye (or at least a willingness to appreciate something new).

For those drawn to more representational pieces, there is Winter Timber, a 2009 oil on canvas by David Hockney. The piece consumes an entire wall, illustrating a scene of blue trees and patches of green grass growing alongside pink and purple roads. To Bell, it’s an overwhelming scene. “You could almost fall into it.”

Or for the lover of abstraction there is Diarios, the work of Gullermo Kuita: seven circle tabletops, mounted on the wall. Look closely and you’ll see phone numbers, emails and various notes etched into old canvas stretched over the tabletops. According to Bell, there isn’t one piece that represents the exhibition-the selected works are meant to be viewed holistically.

In addition to Color and Pattern, visitors will have various opportunities to interact with local artists through tours, talks and events, including a curatorial tour hosted by Bell May 19 from 2pm-3pm (RSVP requested). Keep an eye on the Pivot website (https://www.pivotartandculture.org/) for full lineup details.

Color and Pattern is on display Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-6pm through July 23.

Story By Katheryn Grice and Photos by Daniel Berman

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