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b. 1939, United States

Virginia Jaramillo Biography

Best known for her bold, meditative minimalist abstractions, Mexican-American painter Virginia Jaramillo has been expanding the perceptual and material possibilities of minimalism and geometric abstraction for more than six decades. She exhibited in the historic 1971 The Deluxe Show in Houston, one of the first racially integrated art exhibitions in the United States.

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Early Years

Of Mexican descent, Virginia Jaramillo was born in El Paso, Texas in 1939. She grew up in Los Angeles where her art practice flourished from childhood. Attending the Manual Arts High School there, she went on weekly school excursions to the studio of American designer Charles Eames.

From 1958 to 1961 Jaramillo studied at Los Angeles' Otis Art Institute. During this time, her early and large-scale canvases were shown in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art annual exhibition series from 1959 to 1961. Living in Watts at the time, the heightened social and racial tensions in the most arduous years of the Civil Rights Movement could be felt in her dark palette and deep contrasts of texture.

Alongside modernist industrial design and science fiction, Jaramillo also found enduring influence in the exploration of form and function in abstract expressionist painting. Following a year's escape in Paris in 1965, Jaramillo and her family moved to New York, where she continues to work to this day, and where she became immersed in the burgeoning Soho art scene, alongside artists such as Kenneth Noland, Melvin Edwards, and Frank Bowling.

Virginia Jaramillo Artworks

Driven by a deeply philosophical approach to art, Virginia Jaramillio's minimalist geometric abstractions are made with a contemplative eye on subjects as varied as science fiction, physiology, and diverse histories and cultures. Materiality plays a key role, in her works as she has experimented with various media, pigment, surfaces, and processes to express materially our sensory perceptions of time and space. Jaramillo has stated that her work is, 'an aesthetic investigation which seeks to translate into visual terms the mental structural patterns we all superimpose on our world.'

Curvilinear Paintings

In New York in the late 1960s Jaramillo began working in a crisp, minimalist style characterised by solid fields of vivid colour, sliced through with thin, precisely-drawn curving lines. These were inspired by the Japanese concept of negative space, called 'Ma'.

Jaramillo drew wider attention with these works. In 1971 she was selected for the historic The Deluxe Show in Houston, one of the first racially integrated exhibitions in the United States, and in 1972 her art was selected for the 1972 Whitney Annual at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Stained Paintings

Moving from curvilinear to stained paintings in the 1970s, Jaramillo experimented more with space and depth through stained paintings like Green Space (1974). In these works, Jaramillo stained the canvas with acrylic and oil paints thinned-down to bleed colour and generate more sensory effects. The use of line and geometry, and distribution of colour in earlier stained paintings like the deep, dark, Blue Space (1974), grew more loosely defined and controlled resulting in more lucid works like Indo 3 (1975).

Away from Painting

Towards the 1980s Jaramillo began a decades-long hiatus from painting on canvas. Opting instead to examine new forms of making, she turned to creating abstractions from linen fibres and earth pigments ground by hand. In her 'Visual Theorems' (1979) and 'Foundations' series, among others, the artist can be seen exploring geometric abstraction within this new materiality. It is a materiality and format that blurs ascribed boundaries between contemporary art and crafts, and female and male art.

Around this time, Jaramillo became more involved in politically engaged artistic endeavours, including the influential feminist journal Heresies and took part in a 1984 exhibition at the all-women artist-run A.I.R Gallery.

New paintings

Jaramillo only recently emerged from this long break from painting in 2017. Utilising the same visual language of crisp lines and solid areas of colour as her 1960s abstractions, the artist's 2018 'Site' works combine elements of science, history, and a sense of place and ancient sacred geometries. Each work features in the title a unique set of coordinates leading to ancient and historical sites and natural wonders around the world (largely concentrated in North and South America).

Later works such as the 12-foot-long canvases Quantum Entanglement (2019–2020) and Quanta (2021) reference in name and form the complex scientific theory that describes when two particles become inextricably linked. Here, the complex entanglement is between space and line. Dozens of colourful razor-thin lines of reds and pinks, yellows and oranges, light and dark blues, and greens and purples criss-cross empty fields of colour. Bursts of colour at either end imply the interplay of particles the artist contemplates.

Awards and Accolades

Virginia Jaramillo has received numerous awards and grants including the 2020 Anonymous Was A Woman Award, the 1981 Humanitarian Award from Kansas City's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a National Endowment for 1977 to 1988. Her art features in museum collections across the US and in Mexico.

Exhibitions

Virginia Jaramillo has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include: The Harmony Between Line and Space, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill NY (2021–2022); Virginia Jaramillo: The Curvilinear Paintings, 1969–1974, the Menil Collection, Houston (2020–2021); Visual Theorems, Mexican Museum, San Francisco (1980); Virginia Jaramillo: Paintings, SoHo Center for Visual Artists, New York (1976).

Group exhibitions include: Sensory Poetics: Collecting Abstraction, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2022); Women in Abstraction, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2021); Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London (2017); Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2022

Virginia Jaramillo
featured artworks

Foundations 312 by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork painting
Virginia Jaramillo Foundations 312, 1982 Linen fibre with hand-ground earth pigments
88.9 x 63.5 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
Foundations 369 by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork painting
Virginia Jaramillo Foundations 369, 1982 Linen fiber with hand-ground earth pigments
87.6 x 62.2 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
East of the Sun / Deep Field by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork painting
Virginia Jaramillo East of the Sun / Deep Field, 2022 Acrylic on canvas
182.9 x 182.9 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
To Touch the Earth by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork painting
Virginia Jaramillo To Touch the Earth, 2023 Acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 462.3 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
Site: No. 4 24.4354° N, 123.0112° E by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork painting
Virginia Jaramillo Site: No. 4 24.4354° N, 123.0112° E, 2018 Acrylic on canvas
198.1 x 137.2 cm
Pace Gallery
Foundations 367 by Virginia Jaramillo contemporary artwork mixed media
Virginia Jaramillo Foundations 367, 1982 Linen fibre with hand-ground earth pigments
87.6 x 62.2 cm
Karma Request Price & Availability

Virginia Jaramillo
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Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in 540 West 25th Street, New York, United States
Pace Gallery Hong Kong, Beijing, London, Los Angeles, New York +6

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