Judy Pfaff: Kantha Series
Judy Pfaff: Kantha Series
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Judy Pfaff: Kantha Series features the newest editions that Judy Pfaff completed at Tandem Press. While working on this series, Pfaff took a break to chat with our director Paula Panczenko. During that conversation she said, “I went to India and I thought I knew a lot about color, but I realized I didn’t know anything about India’s vibrant and exotic colors.” Pfaff’s work has always been characterized by vitality, but, in response to her experience in India, these pieces lean more heavily on color rather than structure or form to generate energy and movement.
In some of the work, such as ...two foxes..., Pfaff used extremely saturated colors, allowing them to flow into each other, almost clashing, but with enough control to retain harmony. In other works, she used color with a more restrained hand. This series is also marked by the presence
of patterns that reference the kantha quilts made from recycled saris that Pfaff encountered in the Indian markets. The term raga appears in the titles of three of the larger works - a succinct metaphor for Pfaff’s working process. Just as a raga is a melodic pattern in Indian music used as a framework for improvisation, Pfaff used pattern as a backbone for the work while leaving plenty of room for her to do what she does best - improvise..
Image: Judy Pfaff, ...wind-deer and the honey-grass...
I don’t think about beauty. I think about juxtapositions and color relationships that accelerate each element, so it becomes vibrant. “Beauty” is an elusive word to me. If something was just beautiful, I couldn’t abide by that.
-Judy Pfaff, excerpt from an interview with James Barron
Judy Pfaff (b. 1946) was born in London and immigrated to the US at the age of thirteen. She received her BFA from Washington University and her MFA from Yale University. From the beginning of her career in the 1970s, Pfaff has worked with a wide and unusual range of materials and moves back and forth easily between two- and three-dimensional work, creating art that is complex, profuse, and unique. Her dynamic, exuberant, large-scale works incorporate many different media. Like her installations, Pfaff’s prints have a three-dimensional presence and flowing quality with layered circles, lines and organic shapes echoing throughout the images. To bring the overall compositions together, her prints are often completed with hand-applied paints, fabric dyes, and layers of collaged elements. Her innovative work has brought her wide acclaim from galleries and museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and her work can be found in such prestigious collections as the Detroit Institute of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Among many other awards and accolades, Pfaff was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2004 and was featured in PBS’s Art 21 in 2007. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in 2014 and a National Academy Award for Excellence in Sculpture in 2015.