Pae White

February 8, 2004 - July 13, 2004


Drawn from an abundance of art historical and pop cultural sources, Pae White’s cascading mobiles evoke everything from schools of fish, flocks of birds, and teeming ponds, to Impressionist paintings with their myriad marks. White describes this body of work as “an exploration of movement contained.” Like “a waterfall on pause” the works are “a flurry of color and gentle movement, suspended for contemplation.” Made with brightly colored cut paper strung on colored thread, the pieces move in response to the slightest breath, defining three-dimensional space while remaining fluid.


"...an enchanting wonderland of visual delight and sensual savvy"

- Los Angeles Times

Organized by James Elaine, curator of Hammer Projects.

About the Exhibition

By Alex Farquharson


Seasoned gallery goers these days are used to art taking just about any form imaginable. Still, under duress and given enough time, we might just be able to conceive of a few things that we would never think of as art. Parisian air has been done (Marcel Duchamp), so have twelve live horses (Jannis Kounellis), as has a giant trench in the desert (Michael Heizer). These days we would have to look beyond the found object, however banal or extraordinary, for something one couldn’t imagine calling art. If I had been able to think of it, a set of fully functioning cast-iron barbecues in the shape of stylized animals might have fit the bill. A series of twelve working clocks made of paper representing the signs of the zodiac, or adverts in magazines for other artists’ exhibitions, might have done too.


Clearly animal barbecues, paper clocks, chandeliers, and birdcages don’t operate like traditional art objects, if we take that to mean painting or sculpture. Yet neither do they sit easily within an avant-garde notion of the art object as neither painting nor sculpture. Pae White’s work isn't obviously oppositional enough for that. For one, her work utilizes too many of painting and sculpture’s values while remaining neither. For another, though a reductive form is often the starting point, the end results are usually formally complex and runaway decorative. The attitude of the work, too, is decidedly un-avant-garde: it has a playfulness, a deceptive lightness, a sense of whimsy and caprice that are alien to the avant-garde program. White’s work resists the kind of analysis an avant-garde object demands by instilling a sense of wonder and reverie in the viewer; we tend to lose ourselves in the works’ intricate beauty and the allusions that they put into play. These allusions are largely our own, since any imagery in the work is too ambiguous or too plain weird to act prescriptively. In a specific sense, the work has no hidden meanings and nothing to decode. Its engagement with viewers is egalitarian. The mobiles, for instance, rely less on an understanding of Postminimalist sculpture than our ability to picture the movement of swarms, schools, and flocks of brilliantly colored creatures in water or air—or, perhaps, our knowledge of Californian or Antipodean ghost towns. More

Alex Farquharson is a curator, writer, and lecturer who lives in London.


Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and members of the Hammer Circle.

, 2004, is funded, in part, by an ARC grant from the Durfee Foundation.

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