by Natasha Gural
Abstraction wrangles with representation, as delicate flowers mingle with bold fruits floating on the textured canvas, guiding our eye on a joyous exploration of shapes and colors and lines and drips.
Pacita Abad’s How Mali lost her accent (1991) won my attention at the Tina Kim Gallery booth at last year’s Frieze New York, and yesterday I was enchanted by an older lavish multimedia work, Rama (1982). Born 1946 in born in Basco, Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan, Abad first visited Indonesia in 1983, where was instantly drawn to the Wayang–Indonesian traditional puppet drama–and the traditional art forms of Java, Irian Jaya, and Sumba island.
Abad, who died in 2004, completed more than 70 paintings in six months for her captivating and richly layered Ramayana Tales series. Rama, a prince of Ayodhya in the kingdom of Kosala, is the central figure of the The Rāmāyaṇa, one of two significant Sanskrit epics of Hinduism, known as the Itihasas (history), which is widely read in South Asian cultures. The earliest stage of the text, which has been translated into many languages, is believed to date back to the 8th to 4th centuries BCE. Abad crafts a contemporary narrative from ancient wisdom, inspired by the embellished costumes, theatrical props, and tales of The Rāmāyaṇa.