These two new works are joined by all five large paintings that Pettijohn Schade has made since 2005. Most of the five other works have never been shown, and are generously being loaned to the gallery out of private collections. Coming together for the first time, each of the seven paintings in the exhibit is the culmination of the artist working through all the variables in the series of smaller paintings that preceded it.
The artist has spent years studying systems of pattern formation. She began by studying textiles and textile history, and became engaged with the tradition of gouache paintings for textile patterns. This obscure painting tradition has been revelatory for its complex structures, adventurous approach to mixing of geometric abstraction and descriptive representations of objects and creatures, and its elaborate vocabulary of marks. Her research led to a Fulbright Research Scholar’s Grant in 2013 to spend 6 months at the Bibliotheque Forney in Paris working with a rare collection of anonymous gouache paintings for textiles from the 1700s. These anonymous painters were women and Pettijohn Schade attributes them as her “ancestors”. Her analysis of patterns has enabled the artist to find links between the structure and behavior of cells, networks, and information. Each painting involves an in depth exploration of a family, or set, of structures and images, and takes about a year and a half to complete.
ZPS’s mode of working is marked by meticulous lost craft and contemporary thought, reviving such ancient techniques as marbling and gilding, and considerations about how such yearnings remain increasingly ever-present. Maximal density is achieved through multi-levels of repeating imagery, with the structure of each layer is as considered as the image itself. Each stratum interacts with the others, testing the limits of the system she has created and causing unexpected pattern and associations to emerge. Embedded images hide in plain sight then rise to the eye at their own pace.
"Shifting Sets" will also have a catalog launch of her previous show "Crowds" on Friday, April 20th. More details TBA.