Pat Steir (2022) was an exhibition of new works by the artist at LGDR, Paris. It presented the most recent developments in the acclaimed abstract painter’s ongoing experimentation with gesture, color, and chromatic perception. Prominent in New York as a vital figure of the avant-garde, Steir’s philosophical and conceptual approach to painting was embraced in Paris and throughout France, culminating in solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (1990) and Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (1992).
Pat Steir followed groundbreaking installations of the artist’s work at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2019–21), and Long Museum, Shanghai (2021). For Color Wheel at the Hirshhorn, Steir created an ambitious suite of thirty paintings that compose the full color spectrum, with each canvas comprising an immersive, monumental gradient. In 2021, Steir continued her in-depth explorations of color in the Long Museum exhibition, her first major survey in China. The highlight of that exhibition was Rainbow Waterfall (2021), a painting that synthesizes the layered, kaleidoscopic innovations of the Hirshhorn series into a single large-scale work. Taken together, these projects reaffirmed and reimagined Steir’s ongoing and iconic Waterfall series, which have formed the basis of her meditative approach to painting since 1989.
For Steir, each advancement in her practice informs the next. Thus, her new paintings on view at LGDR, Paris, were guided by her most recent engagements with classical color theory. Central to these works is a rich and emotive red tone, denoted by Steir as a color of joy and passion. The scale of these canvases, as well as the layering of Steir’s brushwork, invited the viewer’s gaze to move vertically, contrasting the earthbound forces of gravity she employs in her signature process of pouring, splashing, and brushing thin layers of paint onto upright canvases. At the same time, the artist’s grounding in Minimalism was expressed through the delicate chalk lines that grid and demarcate the surfaces of her works. At the center of each of these canvases stood Steir’s all-encompassing gesture: the brushstroke that engendered the “waterfall” of paint which asserts her intervention and presence.