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Beta Space: Pae White

Pae White Installation view of the exhibition Spacemanship, Saarland Museum, Germany, 2017–18. Courtesy of 1301PE, Los Angeles; Kaufmann Repetto, Milan; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin. 1301PE, Los Angeles; Kaufmann Repetto, Milan; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

The sixth installment of the San José Museum of Art (SJMA)’s exhibition series “Beta Space” presents a compendium of new and recent work by internationally renowned artist Pae White. The exhibition features three new immense paper clay paintings; a dramatic new silk-screened electroplated steel mobile; a series of delicate cotton and rayon letters and numbers handstitched on paper; and two massive installations making their US debut: a 127-foot long tapestry woven with metallic threads and a chess set comprised of over 100 toys fashioned from glass, wood, clay, porcelain, plastic, acrylic, and rubber. Beta Space: Pae White opens on Thursday, July 18, 2019, 5–9pm through January 19, 2020.

“The work of Los Angeles-based artist Pae White transcends nearly all traditional boundaries—between art and design, craft and fine art, architecture and installation, theory and practice,” said S. Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director at SJMA. “White’s practice across various media and disciplines captures the spirit of the ‘Beta Space’ series: her work brims with artistic risk-taking and experimentation—qualities that resonate with the wildly creative and innovative ethos of Silicon Valley.”

Beta Space: Pae White features both her monumental installations and newly created works of art that will transform the gallery and encourage visitors to rethink how they move through space and to reflect on everyday objects, materials, and phenomena. Shifting our associations and ideas regarding architecture and conventional museum display practices, White’s work, which often features elements of traditional craft merged with digital practices, shares and allows room for different types of workmanship that are often overlooked within the walls of a museum.

“White’s art is always kinaesthetic—as much a bodily as visual experience that plays with the senses,” said Rory Padeken, SJMA associate curator and curator of the exhibition. “Her work is as alluring as it is ambiguous, suggesting that things may not be as they may seem. The handmade nature of her work, combined with sophisticated technologies and inventive processes, allows for a high degree of improvisation.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is foreverago (2017), the artist’s largest tapestry to date at 127 feet long. Shown in the United States for the first time, it will meander through the gallery, creating a sinuous wall-like structure that presents both the front and back of the weaving. Revolutionizing the genre of tapestry for the 21st century, White relied on the help of skilled artisans while employing advanced digital imaging techniques to weave together colorful cotton, cashmere, and metallic threads, and used custom software that randomizes distribution patterns to produce her seemingly chaotic scene. Part of the artist’s ongoing series “Bugz + Drugs,” foreverago explodes with a cacophony of insects—ladybugs, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and crickets—descending on mushrooms, poppies, and cannabis—plants known for their psychoactive, calming effects. Renderings of antique Japanese kimono fabric samples and Byzantine icons further enhance an already rich and visually abundant composition.

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