The Artistry of Pacita Abad

Pacita's Painted Bridge

In the course of life and work I’ve met a lot of artists and showcased the work of many others, so I thought it might be fun to share some of these remarkable people with you.

The artistry of Pacita Abad has always appealed to me because it is bright, energetic, and refreshing. I was first drawn to her work because of the rich colors and the vivid intensity. It strikes me now that she was a lot like that too.

Though known primarily as a painter, Pacita should be remembered as a woman who raised her voice in support of others, who was a passionate advocate for self-representation, and who became a teacher for those who stopped to listen. 

Though she has passed on to other endeavors, she leaves behind an impressive artistic legacy of more than 5,000 works, encompassing dozens of countries over a career which spanned 32 years.

Ati-Atihan

Painting with traditional techniques, and combining trapunto (a type of quilting stitch) elements on padded surfaces, Pacita mixed mediums to create a unique approach to compositions.

She was born in the Philippines and eventually came to study in the United States, allowing her work to be influenced through her life experiences. In her paintings and handwork she unhesitatingly celebrated the traditional cultures of her homeland and explored contemporary issues related to identity and femininity. 

You can visit her personal website to learn more.

Filipina

Like many artists who enjoy longevity in their careers, Pacita passed through several stages as she discovered her personal style. Her early works feature more politicized subjects, emphasizing an underlying connection to cultural attributes. A turn at producing large-scale botanicals and underwater scenery opened up a palette of colors for brighter experiments she then turned to flora and fauna before moving into the abstract compositions that are her best-known signature pieces.

Pacita traveled extensively and over the years lived on five continents, during which she produced work around the globe…busy trying to paint the world, in her words. 

One of her greatest labors was the painting of the Alkaff Bridge in Singapore.

This major undertaking took Pacita’s considerable artistic vision, as well as the efforts of an entire team of painters, many who worked high above the ground. The project included 2,230 of her signature circle patterns on every surface of the 230 ton bridge. An endeavor she tackled during the last year of her life.

The fifty-five meter span and the thirty-five meter height glows with color and vibrancy, just like Pacita.

This project earned Pacita the name, Bridge Lady.

Please take ten minutes to watch this video about the history and process of creating the artbridge. The film clip is narrated by Pacita’s brother and lovingly showcases this final work which was completed shortly before her death. If you find yourself in Singapore, don’t forget to visit, the bridge continues to be a place of joy.

Like Pacita, I believe art is a fundamental part of our daily lives. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose or exalted, it can also be humble and fun. Art can be something to admire and it can be functional…even a place we can dance. Pacita knew that and she wanted the rest of the world to know it too.

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  1. #1 by Natalie Hartford on February 28, 2012 - 8:00 am

    Ahhhmazing! I had no idea. Her art is simply stunning and I LOVE the Art Bridge. Thanks sooo much for sharing and the video. Love it!

    • #2 by Leslie on February 28, 2012 - 4:17 pm

      Singapore is on my list of “places to go” and I really want to walk across the artbridge when I’m there. A simple thing that gives so much pleasure to many. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. #3 by Traci Kenworth on February 28, 2012 - 11:57 am

    Beautiful work.

    • #4 by Leslie on February 28, 2012 - 4:16 pm

      It is beautiful. The bright colors are just fun.

  3. #5 by Ali Dent on February 29, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    Wow! I love Filipina. It’s gorgeous.

    • #6 by Leslie on March 1, 2012 - 12:19 pm

      It is gorgeous. There’s another one called “I Thought the Streets Were Paved with Gold” that is really fascinating. I wasn’t able to find a good resolution photo to show it in the post.

  4. #7 by Jack and Kristi on June 24, 2013 - 1:27 pm

    Hi Leslie, it was wonderful to stumble upon your website and writing about Pacita Abad and her works. Do check out our new archival website http://www.pacitaabad.com, as well as the blue “View on Wall” feature in the Art section. The ArtBridge badly needs to be repainted and we are hoping that the project can be done to restore its vibrancy, perhaps we might start a “Repaint the Singapore ArtBridge” movement soon! Best regards.

    • #8 by Lesann Berry on June 27, 2013 - 2:10 pm

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve never been to Singapore to see the bridge, but it’s on my list of things to do someday. I will be glad to share your project and hope it enjoys great success! Thanks again.

  5. #9 by Jack Garrity on August 1, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the commentary Lesann. Jack Garrity, Pacita Abad Art Estate

    • #10 by Lesann Berry on September 2, 2014 - 1:36 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Jack. I’m so happy that Pacita’s artistic legacy is being shared.

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