new-york

Pat Steir

Cheim & Read

Earth, water, and air are the principal themes in these eleven paintings by Pat Steir, most of which were begun over the past three years and completed last winter. Their mood is somber: They are meditations on the transience of natural phenomena (Bay of Mumbai, 2001–2002; Sand, 1998–99), the passing of time (Winter Sky, 2000–2002), and the fragility of life (Hungry Ghost, 2000-2002). Steir achieves her abstraction by the strict observance of procedural rules regarding palette, methods of paint application, and so on—something that’s been important to her since her early conceptual period Once these rules are set, she sticks to them, even when the painting’s execution takes two years—but they combine paradoxically with a sense of letting go, derived from her studies of Zen calligraphy and from her knowledge of Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, the 2,500-year-old Chinese book on the art of

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