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pae white


Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
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For Command-Shift-4, Pae White engages architectural space as her material, reimagining the open volume of the Henry’s large Gwathmey-Siegel designed gallery. Painted graphics and a matrix of multi-colored acrylic yarn—attached to walls, the ceiling, and the floor —create a three-dimensional drawing for us to navigate visually and physically.

Perception shifts depending on where we place our bodies inside White’s provisional structure—density gives way to diffusion; shapes, letterforms, and numbers appear and then dissolve from the networks of yarn; and forms reflect and multiply in a large, mirrored surface, playfully linking what we see to how we move through the gallery.

Known for working across the disciplines of fine and applied arts, architecture, and design, White found inspiration for Command-Shift-4 in the buildings at The Sea Ranch, a visionary housing development on the coast of northern California, first designed beginning in 1963. In Command-Shift-4, White reinterprets spatial qualities of the community’s early structures, which were characterized by austere exteriors opening into animated interiors of layered volumes, and the kinetic dynamism of supergraphics—bold, colorful geometric shapes and letterforms painted across built surfaces—enlivening the experience of enclosed space and creating optical ambiguities that confound the physical limits of the architecture.

White’s work often tells a story of its making, and here the title Command-Shift-4 refers to an image-capture function on a Mac computer that White regularly used during her online research of The Sea Ranch. Translating her virtual experience of this place from images—as well as her memories of time spent at the Ranch—into the displaced context of the Henry, White creates an interplay of here and there, an homage to the Ranch that evokes the tangled ways we experience, come to know, and remember places and the past.

Pae White (U.S., born 1963) is a Los Angeles-based artist who has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. Hover, a 2003 Henry exhibition, featured one of White’s mobiles—made of colored paper pieces floating on strings suspended from the ceiling—that prefigured the elaborate linear construction and spatial play of her current installation. Read as a type of deconstructed textile, Command Shift-4 expands upon a technique White previously explored in text-based supergraphic projects at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2012) and the South London Gallery (2013). Additional, recent solo exhibitions include those at The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2010) and the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (MAK), Vienna (2013). White was also included as part of the 2009 Venice Biennale and 2010 Whitney Biennial.