In her sculptures, tapestries, paintings, installations, and video works, Los Angeles-based artist Pae White places familiar objects and mediums in conversations with new, unexpected processes, technologies, and perceptions.Read More
Pae White was born, raised, and educated in California, receiving her BA from Scripps College in Claremont (1985) and an MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena (1991). In 1990, she also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine.
Working across diverse mediums, Pae White sheds new light on the ordinary through recent technology and collaboration. In the three-minute video Dying Oak/Elephant (2009), for example, an old California Oak tree is reborn as a 3D-scanned 'death mask' consisting of miniature balls of light. The group of eclectic chess pieces in AGAMEMNOMICS (2013) derive from old toys held at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, measurements of which White sent to her collaborators around the world and asked for their reinterpretations. The resulting objects are varied in colour, design, and medium, having been made in glass, wood, clay, porcelain, plastic, and rubber.
Similar to her other works, Pae White employs simple and familiar shapes to create her large-scale mobiles. Dark Corners (2011) comprises porcelain popcorn kernels ranging from burnt to well-cooked in colour. The hexagon is also a recurring motif in White's mobiles, which the artist cuts from electroplated sheets of steel and arranges into expansive mobiles such as Whistleblower (2019). Often rendered in bold colours, White's hexagonal pieces reflect off one another in an effect that she calls 'blush'.
Since the early 2000s, Pae White has combined historical, cultural, and regional imagery with contemporary technology to weave large-scale tapestries. Digital scanning allows the artist to capture her subjects in photographic verisimilitude, such as the depiction of white smoke against a black background in Smoke Knows (2009) and the crinkled aluminium woven from cotton and polyester in Spearmint to Peppermint (2013).
For White, tapestries are not reserved for the wall, but can be used as an architectural element. The monumental foreverago (2017)—made from materials ranging across cotton, lurex, polyester, cashmere, silver, aluminium, and lead—is displayed against an undulating wall, becoming an immersive environment in itself. Scattered throughout the 40-metre-long tapestry are motifs and imagery drawn from different cultures, including the Byzantine Empire and Japan.
In 2017, Pae White conceived Spacemanship, a monumental site-specific installation for the new wing of Modern Gallery at the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken, Germany. Exceeding four floors in height, the colourful threads suspended throughout the atrium of the gallery were visible from every floor of the museum, creating an illusion of floating in space.
Pae White's clay sculptures range from wall-mounted sculptures that are often covered in elaborate floral and chain-like motifs as in Toing & Froing, Warm Gold (2010) or The Intern (2019) to murals such as Moonsets for a Sunrise (2019), which consists of rounded blue, yellow, and orange tiles that enliven the outer walls of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
The diversity of materials that compose Pae White's public works reflects the breadth of her practice. Coinciding with the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, the artist was commissioned by Le Stanze del Vetro to install a wall of coloured glass in San Giorgio Maggiore. The work was titled Qwalala, after the Native American Pomo word to describe the snake-like curves of the Gualala River in Northern California. Day for Night for Day (2019), on the Beverly Center escalators, comprises 900 pieces of all-white, hand-shaped neon. The ball-shaped mobile Noisy Blushes (2020), commissioned by the San Jose Museum of Art, far exceeds Day for Night for Day with more than 12,000 electroplated steel hexagons.
Pae White's solo exhibitions include Friendship is Magic, STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore (2021); Beta Space, San Jose Museum of Art, California (2019); Spacemanship, Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany (2017); ...and then you know what? Kaufmann Repetto, Milan (2014); Special No. 127, Neugerriemschneider, Berlin (2014); Too Much Night, Again, South London Gallery (2013); and Material Mutters, The Power Plant, Toronto (2010).
Selected group exhibitions include Less is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design, ICA Boston (2019); Walking on the Fade Out Lines, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2018); LSD, Kunsthalle Oslo, Norway (2017); Till It's Gone, Istanbul Modern, Turkey (2016); Brain Multiples at 25, 1301PE Gallery, Los Angeles (2016); Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, Barbican, London (2015); Decorum: Carpets and Tapestries by Artists, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2014); Abstract. Current Process and Hybridity, Perrotin, Paris (2013); and Behold, America! Art of the United States from Three San Diego Museums, San Diego Museum of Art, California (2012).
Pae White's Instagram can be found here.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021