In today's #Revisit, we are looking back on Pacita Abad’s solo exhibition, A Million Things to Say. This show was mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) from 12 April until 1 July 2018, and was curated by Abad’s nephew, Pio Abad and MCAD’s director, Joselina Cruz. The title of this exhibition was lifted from an abstract painting by the late artist, ‘I Have One Million Things to Say’, which she completed in 2002, two years before her death. It was one of the twenty-three large-scale trapunto paintings presented in this momentous exhibition.
A widely travelled woman, Abad was largely inspired by the cultural customs and practices of the regions she visited. It was her time in Africa in the late 1970s that prompted her to begin creating the type of painting most identified with her colourful practice – trapuntos. These sculptural works were experimental and defied traditional manners of art making; they were stuffed, stitched, quilted, and embroidered in order to expand the confines of a two-dimensional surface. Characterised by their vivid colours, accumulated material, and tribal aesthetic, these unique paintings came to define Abad as an innovative artist that promoted cultural diversity.
The selection of works featured in A Million Things to Say encompassed the key trapunto series Abad produced in her artistic career: Underwater Wilderness, inspired by her diving trips across the Philippine archipelago; Immigrant Experience, influenced by the many migrant narratives she encountered in her life of travel; Abstract Emotions and Endless Blues, shaped by the artist’s inward feelings and the musical blues; and the series that began it all – Masks and Spirits, where Abad depicted tribal masks from the remote areas she visited. A historical exhibition, A Million Things to Say, was a rare gathering of Abad’s trapuntos from a string of series actualised by a lifetime of travel and reflection.
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