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Pentimenti Gallery in Old City has double the visual intensity throughout the month of November. On display right now is a two-person show by artists Francesca Pastine and Jackie Tileston that plays with colorful, fluid forms in both abstract painted manifestations and appropriated constructions made from physical art publications themselves.
Francesca Pastine, “Unsolicited Collaboration with Kara Walker, Artforum Excavation Series.”
Works by Pastine are immediately intriguing in that they are all (dis)assembled from used magazines. The artist utilizes X-acto knives to slice and reshape the recognizable objects of print publication from boxy pages to organic, dripping swaths of patterns. At a time when print is quickly fading into the background in favor of web-based publishing, these melting magazines make for an apt metaphor surrounding their own obsolescence. Furthermore, these books are not just any discarded Newsweek that Pastine found in her local dentist’s waiting room, they are her friend’s unwanted copies of Artforum. Morphing the very stuff of contemporary art and placing it squarely in a gallery is not just a nudge at paper production, but at the art world itself.
Artforum 45
Francesca Pastine, “Artforum 45.”
Cut paper allows for the inclusion of actual depth into these montages. The structures are more relief sculpture than collage, but they tug at the coattails of two-dimensional art as well, seeing as they are literally composed of flat images. Pastine plays with this element quite a bit, digging warped, rectangular pits into the cover of Artforum or layering the pages into bookmark-like blobs that peek out from inside the books. Particularly stunning is Pastine’s “Artforum 45,” which shows a group of white-clad bodies seemingly falling onto one of her contoured pools of color. The key word here is onto, and not into. The fact that the people rest atop the form instead of sink into it references its existence as a solid object and not just an amorphous puddle.


We check out the opulent “This is Elsewhere” at Pentimenti Gallery.

...[w]hile not exactly landscape, Tileston’s work undeniably has a spatial, topographic element, and Christine Pfister, who runs Pentimenti, has cleverly paired it with a sister show — “Unsolicited,” Francesca Pastine’s X-Acto dissections of contemporary-art periodical Artforum
Artforum, if you’re not familiar, is kind of like the art-world Vogue, in that its editorial pages of writing and photo spreads are at least matched in number by tons of gorgeous, luxe-y advertisements in brilliant colors. Pastine’s “excavations” take advantage of the magazine’s square format and high-production-value colors: She fans out pages beyond the glossy’s border and razors away some colored layers of pages to reveal others underneath. The thick, cut-paper layers, stacked into topographic masses, are a clear complement to Tileston’s paintings. 
Pastine’s cutaways interact with the magazines’ cover images, which the artist considers a “unsolicited collaboration” between herself, the magazine and the artist featured on the cover. Unlike the found-book interventions of Ishmael Randall Weeks, these works don’t feel like a meditation on geography, architecture, colonization or political space. Rather, Pastine’s altered magazines feel like a fun diorama/valentine to the art world — an externally localized topographic fun-fair that pairs well with Tileston’s introverted universes.

Galleries: 'Outside of Time,' beautifully and mysteriously

November 25, 2012|By Edith Newhall, For The Inquirer

Not that Artforum magazine ever needed help with its design, but Francesca Pastine, a San Francisco artist who is having her first solo exhibition here, has made it even more visually absorbing by cutting shapes into issues of the famously thick and square glossy with an X-acto blade - an act she considers a kind of unsolicited collaboration with the magazine and the cover artists (Bridget Riley, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and others). Pastine cuts at an angle, leaving the edges of pages, and any number of fleeting art-world trends, temptingly exposed.

SFAQ Interview

SFQA Arts and Culture magazine by Gregory Ito

Post-Apocalyptic Worlds of Alison O.K. Frost, Vanessa Marsh, and Francesca Pastine 

Alex Bigman of the East Bay Express reviewed the Residency Projects exhibit at Kala Art Institute

" Pastine's sculptures and accompanying ink-print photographs depict striking tribal masks that, upon close inspection, turn out to be fashioned from pages of The New York Times' stock market gauge. This smart, metaphorically loaded gesture (financial speculation as pagan ritualism, The New York Times as cultural totem) warrants a review of its own. In concert with the post-apocalyptic voices of Marsh and Frost, however, the masks emphasize another reading — as anthropological discoveries to be made by future humans, who will contemplate in softly lit wonder the mysterious relics of our own, long-since-extinguished civilization."

Chronicle Review, June 8, 2012

Pastine annexes Artforum: The work of San Francisco artist Francesca Pastine has a unique currency. She has rooted it in the fact that almost everyone in the art world takes some note of the art press, but few actually read it. Blame bad writing, a rising tide of post-literacy or blog fatigue, but that's how things stand.
Artforum - a New York publication founded in San Francisco in the early '60s - once did figure, in simpler times, as the house organ of the art world.
But then the art market and criticism and communications technology went global, and New York and Artforum lost their centrality - except as brands.
Pastine treats the Artforum brand - physically - as grist for amazing constructions, or deconstructions, of paper instantly recognizable as her handiwork.
She frequently cuts into issues of the magazine, treating its colorful, advertising-choked pages as geological strata. In the long vertical "Artforum #35 Collaboration With Bruce Nauman (Pour Series)" (2012), blob-like cutouts cascade down through several vertically arrayed September 2007 issues of the magazine, finally drooping beneath the bottom one.
From the physical comedy of Pastine's work, and its ancestry in the de-collage of artists such as Raymond Hains and Mimmo Rotella, emerges a nightmare of visual culture deliquescing into a mercurial substance whose true name may be celebrity or profitability.
Francesca Pastine: Unsolicited: Paper works. Through July 7. Eleanor Harwood Gallery, 1295 Alabama St., S.F. (415) 867-7770. www.eleanor harwood.com.

SF Gate Feature on My Work by Kimberly Chun: Kimberly Chun,SF Gate's 96 Hours

One takeaway that artist Francesca Pastine has discovered in using issues of Artforum in her work: Others are just as apt to use those issues to their own ends.

That much was clear when the San Francisco artist showed pieces from her "Artforum Excavation" series at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. "I had a set of them, and someone just picked them up," she says.

It's easy to take those fat, glossy issues for granted. "Everyone has them," Pastine muses. "They're the ubiquitous object in every artist's house, and no one seems to want to get rid of them, and it's an interesting format. A rectangle implies continuity, whereas a square is self-contained. It's kind of like an art object to begin with."

Yet what Pastine does goes beyond merely upcycling. She plays off the artwork showcased on the covers of the magazines - be it by Bruce Nauman, Brice Marden or Guy de Cointet - and the sliced-up pages appear to drip and morph like molten psychedelic ooze or teeter and crumble like multimedia strata, pushing beyond the edges of the page.

"Artforum 40: Unsolicited Collaboration With Zoe Leonard, Pour Series," for instance, found Pastine starting with two consecutive color pages of saturated deep green and acid yellow, then cutting into the paper from there.

"It is a collaborative process - it's an object already," she says. "It's not exactly about looking at a blank canvas."

She also constructed a table with a mirrored surface that reflects the Leonard cover. "It's an exciting place for me to go," Pastine says. "I liked that it created an extra dimension in the piece."

Consider the works as a way of cutting into the tastemakers' critical conversation. "I think I use Artforum because it's an iconic symbol of the art world," she says, "and it's a way of synthesizing broader global and publish narratives and immediate personal concerns with a magazine that's something like a totem. It's a power institution and a site of power - and by intervening I'm able to usurp that."

And in some ways the work has allowed the artist - who studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she has also taught - to break form in more personal ways.

"I'm interested in the physicality of doing it and the physicality apparent in the finished product, so the mark or the idea of the hand creating is very important to me," Pastine says. "If you look at the magazines, the cuts aren't perfect, and the actual magazines are used and marked up as well. They have their own kind of history of usage, which is a good thing for me because I'm kind of a perfectionist, and using magazines for me has actually allowed me to accept imperfection."

Reception 7 p.m. Sat. Through July 7. 11-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Eleanor Harwood Gallery, 1295 Alabama St., S.F. (415) 867-7770. www.eleanorharwood.com.

Kimberly Chun is a freelance writer. E-mail: 96hours@sfchronicle.com

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/Francesca-Pastine-s-works-usurp-art-world-symbol-3581192.php#ixzz2Ff9UhPcO

"IN THE DARK: THREE CONSIDERATIONS," Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, March 5, 2011

The title of the three-person show at Eleanor Harwood's - "In the Dark: Three Considerations" - promises more than the show delivers, but if that brings heightened attention to the work of Toronto artist Niall McClelland, then no matter.

McClelland made each of his three unframed pieces here by blackening an extra-large sheet of photo-copying paper. He then creased, crumpled and flattened it - to an extent - to produce a black field flickering with galaxies of white detail.

Some of the creases form rigid patterns, such as the one-point perspective and parallel diagonals in "Tapestry - Beaten" (2010). But the tracery of vastly many more records the ungovernable collapse of the paper under pressure.

We might interpret McClennand's pieces, with their hints of a cosmic plenum under systematic scrutiny, as abstract figures for humankind's need to master reality with concepts and procedures. But even regarded as empty process exercises, these works honor pleasure in seeing for its own sake as too little contemporary art does.

Joe Bender's oil and alkyd on aluminum paintings show viewers the same respect in different terms, by surrendering their inner complexities only to sustained, desiring attention. The longer you look, the more the paintings declare their visible reality individually, until it becomes difficult to regain your initial impression of their equivalence. As in McClelland's work, that transit has a lyricism that most contemporary art does not incline us to anticipate.

Francesca Pastine temporarily abandoned the flashing humor of her art magazine deconstructions for political statements that bring Sarah Charlesworth's too readily to mind. Pastine has blotted out with graphite all but selected details of pages from the New York Times that expose the moral hypocrisy of wealth and power and media complicity in their mythology. No news, sad to say.

In the Dark: Three Considerations: Paintings and works on paper by Joe Bender, Niall McClelland and Francesca Pastine. Through March 26. Eleanor Harwood Gallery, 1295 Alabama St., S.F. (415) 282-4248. www.eleanorharwood.com.

E-mail Kenneth Baker at kennethbaker@sfchronicle.com.



Francesca Pastine is good, really good, but her series “Iraqi Casualties” had us freaking out today. Some of the most beautiful lo-fi work we’ve seen in AAAAAAAGES made using some issues of the New York Times and a 9b pencil.


"IN THE DARK," Visual Art Source, DeWitt Cheng, March 23, 2011

One of the first lessons in Drawing 101 class is that the “negative space” between objects is as important as the shapes of rendered objects. With the discovery of dark matter we might now nervously joke, whistling, that the visible universe is merely what is left over, excluded or extruded from the dark. That conclusion is partially verified by three artists — Joseph Bender, Francesca Pastine and Niall McClelland — who eschew color, preferring the blacker shades of dark. Once your eyes adapt to being “In the Dark,” the subtle joys of tone, texture and context become more important; and maybe your hearing improves, too. . .

Bender’s dark oils or oils/alkyds on 36 x 36” aluminum squares call to mind Ad Reinhardt’s 50”-square black cross paintings of the 1950s. “Addition is Not Subtraction” even employs the familiar cruciform composition; in other works, however, Bender is more severely reductive and monochrome — and ironic, considering titles like “Fabricator of Hidden Riddles,” “Where Dogs and Vultures Meet,” and, of course, “Crepuscular Predilection.” They vary in brushstroke and finish, if not in hue, asserting their materiality as we peer into their opaque “confrontational but contemplative” depths. Pastine works with printed newspaper and graphite in her “Iraq Casualty” series. New York Times cover pages from 2006 to 2008 are obscured with metallic 9B lead strokes, burying most of the type and imagery so that poignant slices of reality — body bags, coffins, a mourner — can expand to assume larger importance. In “Blackout, Section A Series,” she completely coats the paper, suggesting both censorship and mourning. McClelland’sTapestry” pieces are arrays of black page-sized rectangles with worn white creases, folds and puckers. They resemble astronomical charts without stars, or maps without geographical features, and reflect, darkly, both 1960s Minimalism and 1970s Process Art.








"IN THE DARK: THREE CONSIDERATIONS," Happenstand, March 2011

Working in black is sometimes about closing down the available routes to reference, meaning and information. For example, Francesca Pastine's blacked out newspaper pages that leave only visible images of Iraqi casualties of war. She uses black to funnel your attention, to make you look and to mask out the other images and text. Her black in these pieces acts as a pointer. In her entirely blacked out New York Times section A piece she makes the whole tome of data devoid of content altogether. Her obfuscation of "all the news fit to print" asks how valid or not the erased content was.

Other artists such as Joe Bender work with "black" as an immense and subtle color range. This body of his work is a study of all the information available in the color black. The theoretical idea that a perfect balance of all pigments will make the color black is integral to Joe's practice. His play, in oil paint, adjusts the layers of color to bring "color" out within his black paintings ends up being about balance and small shifts bringing out rich tints and shades.

For Niall McClelland working in black and grey scale allows the viewer to connect more easily with his process. This transparency about the process, a system of mark making through folding and xeroxing, fosters an immediate connection between seeing and understanding, and evokes a kind of “back to basics” mentality about art making. Stripped of embellishment, the simplicity and starkness of the work point to the truth behind any art piece - the hand of its maker.

Black can be all colors producing the color black such as in Bender’s work, but it is also an absence of color in that whatever is perceived as black doesn’t put out or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum. Whatever looks black is absorbing all frequencies of light. Black is everything and nothing at once depending on how you read it. Black can be additive and black can be void. The artists in this show address these understandings, as well as the many cultural, and psychological interpretations of black, and demonstrate, ultimately, the complexity inherent in this color.


FANZINE, "FANZINE DOES NEW YORK ART FAIRS,"  Bradford Nordeen, March 6, 2011

"I can really only see two ways to approach the next fair I attended, Scope. There are galleries which make it work, who take what they are doing seriously and have preferential placement that allows them to function with a certain autonomy. And it’s a testament to the art, that it is strong enough to demand your critical attention. San Francisco gallerist, Eleanor Harwood does an utterly professional job showcasing Gareth Spor’s Dream Machine (inspired, of course, by Brian Gysin) and Francesca Pastine’s surprisingly solid sculptural landscapes, made from carved-out ArtForums."


JANUARY 7, 2009

Working artist: Pastine focuses on physicality of objects
Christine Brenneman

Francesca Pastine's ArtForum series of excavated magazines will be displayed at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.
To hear local artist Francesca Pastine tell it, her artistic life began practically at conception. Her mother and father were both working artists, and her childhood was spent immersed in a milieu of paintings, sculpture, art studios and constant talk of the creative process. Pastine, a multimedia artist and painter, now lives and works out of her home in San Francisco's Mission district. There, she creates paper-based sculpture and realistic paintings, often using ordinary materials in her artworks.

This month, Pastine and 19 other California artists will be featured in a group exhibition, "Front + Center," at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.

Each participant applied for the center's prestigious artist-in-residence program for 2009; though these applicants did not get the residency, their work was chosen for the annual kickoff exhibition, which showcases up-and-coming artists in a variety of visual media.

Four pieces from Pastine's ArtForum series of "excavated" magazines will be on display.

Q: There's an overarching theme in your work of calling attention to the physical nature of your materials - whether you're painting shopping carts used by the homeless, cutting snowflakes out of the New York Times or chopping into an ArtForum magazine. Can you talk about why that's important to you?

A: In those specific bodies of work, I wanted to work with things that were immediately at hand. I'm interested in the physicality and materiality of objects:
Marin Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District
the object-ness of the shopping carts, for example, the piles of things, the ways in which they were covered and piled with blankets. That theme runs through, wanting to deal with what's at hand, things that I'm engaged with on a daily basis. With both the ArtForum and the New York Times, I like how the pages feel, and all those little peripheral marks on the edge of the pages. I'm interested in all of these things as physical objects.

Q: The hand of the artist, and clear evidence of that,
Francesca Pastine's ArtForum series of excavated magazines will be displayed at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito.
seems paramount in your work. Why?

A: I was very inspired by the women's art movement of the 1970s, which emphasized craft. I got into paper-cutting and paper crafts, and I liked cutting into them and trying to have the trace of my hand in the actual object. This brings the viewer to the present, into a richer experience of seeing. The viewer can have an embodied, visceral experience with the physical act of making when I bring that aspect forth. That's the reason I don't want to laser-cut them.

Q: Can you talk about the pieces you'll have in the "Front + Center" show?

A: There will be four of my ArtForum works (in which she cuts into the venerable art magazine). I consider them an archeological excavation, a dig. I'm digging through the current history of art making and stripping it and exposing it in a physical way, not an abstract way. The reason I was attracted to them was that they are square-shaped. A rectangle represents a portrait or landscape. But with a square, your eye kind of stops, it reads more as a real object.

Q: You teach art at the college level, and have done so for much of your career. How does that feed back into your own art practice?

A: I think it's important to get back to the fundamentals of art, to touch base with that all the time, so that you don't get too far into the conceptual realm. Through teaching, I go back to the reason that art's exciting for me in the first place. It's really gratifying to open up the possibility and potential of art on all levels. People get so much out of this experience; it's gratifying to see how people connect with creativity.

Q: What's your favorite color?

A: That I don't have - but I do love orange.

Q: What is your most prized art possession?

A: The art I have that was made by my parents.

Q: What's the most inspiring thing you see daily?

A: My first cup of coffee.

Q: What one word best describes you as an artist?

A: Dedicated.

Q: What you would do if you didn't make things?

A: There's really nothing else I can do. I'm hopeless at anything else.


What: Front + Center, a group exhibition guest-curated by Kimberly Johansson with featured artists: Francesca Pastine, Tamara Albaitis, Brice Bischoff, Todd Bura, Matty Byloos, Ajit Chauhan, Joshua Churchill, Lori Esposito, Mayumi Hamanaka, Taro Hattori, Rachel Mayeri, Jennie Ottinger, Erik Parra, Alison Pebworth, Tara Tucker, Paul Urich, Lindsey White, Noah Wilson, Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough and Ayelet Zohar.

Where: Headlands Center for the Arts, 944 Fort Barry, third floor, Sausalito

Christine Brenneman can be reached at lifestyles@marinij.com. The Working Artist column appears the second Thursday each month.


Front + Center

  The Headlands Center for the Arts' Residency Program has provided a removed perch for California artists, letting them draw on the Center's gorgeous natural surroundings and its past life as part of the military's Fort Barry. Front + Center — which alludes to both militaristic and theatrical forms of staging — finds local curatorial wunderkind Kimberly Johansson giving applicants from the 2009 program their chance to take center stage. The mixed-media show has many strong points, but Francesca Pastine's meticulously gutted issues of Artforum deserve an extra round of applause.

– Matt Sussman


Art of Democracy: War and Empire
By Jennine Scarboro | Oct 12, 2008

Politics are not subtle, political communication is necessarily fast, strident, and goal oriented. The best art on the other hand has a subtlety and an ambiguity that inspires contemplation and allows for multiple interpretations. I am very interested in the possibilities offered by the intersection of politics and art but, because the two practices are best formally presented in contradictory ways, it requires immense skill to balance the demands that each bring to a work. Art of Democracy: War and Empire at the Meridian Gallery had plenty of pieces that did not succeed, but among these I discovered works that did. As I looked I became aware that the work that most impressed me put art first and politics second.

The best pieces in the show are Fernando Botero's painting Abu Ghraib #54 and Enrique Chagoya's litho and Chine-colle codex The Ghost of Liberty. Both of these works exhibit the inspired formal mastery of their makers.

Botero's piece could at first seem to be an obvious illustration of the Abu Ghraib torture that horrified many in the US, and the world, in 2004. His painting however imbues the depiction with a sorrow and a livingness that invokes a powerful and different emotion from the one the photos evoked. As Kimmelman points out, "The photos of Abu Ghraib imply no outrage about what's happening. In fact, the intent of the pictures is precisely to compound the humiliation." These photographs of atrocities were taken by the instigators of the atrocities, and as a result our contemplation is focused on the barbarity of a viewer who will witness and record horrible acts without considering the humanity of his subjects.

In opposition to this, Botero's work forces one to consider the humanity of this narrative's subjects. His figures are fleshy. The tender squishiness of their flesh emphasizes the brutality by which this flesh has been damaged making us feel them as fellow humans that suffer. I feel empathy for the sorrow of their pierced flesh, for their forced blindness, for the bindings that cut into their soft bodies. In Abu Grhaib #54, two figures are bound together in a dark barred cell. The cell that contains them has a strange slanting perspective. The way this warped perspective slides us down and out of the picture destabilizes the space emphasizing a strangeness and horror that adds to the painting's power. The figures are sympathetic, the space, the situation in which they exist, wrong. There is something about hope here too, a distant hope implied by narrow strip of light glowing in the oppressive darkness beyond double sets of cell bars. The omnipresence of hope is necessary for survival of dire and mundane trauma, and this slender strip speaks to me of the resonance of hope in human experience.

Enrique Chagoya's The Ghost of Liberty differs in its approach both to content and to formal investigation. Rather than focusing on a specific event, Chagoya's piece is thematic. He creates a magical pastiche of oppression by giving us a sampling of "imperialist intervention" and "arbitrary exercise of violent power" as they occur in different places and at different times.

While Botero utilizes the compositional manipulation of space and a sensitive rendering of the figures that instills them with symbolic meaning, rhythm, scale, color, and image complexity are the formally compelling aspects of Chagoya's work. Jesus-headed dinosaurs, Chinese-baby astronauts, Mayan gods, and Buddha heads, are printed in brilliant hues and collaged into a landscape of changing conflict. His hybrid forms are as inventive and delightful as his subject, the omnipresence of cultural violations, war, and political violence. The tension that holds these opposites together results in a very exciting piece.

While I am most insistently drawn to work in which the formal qualities are most developed, occasionally a more conceptually focused piece will compel me. In The Past as Future, Habermas discusses what has happened, in the media, to depictions of war. He presents the idea that public opinion was affected by media images during Vietnam in a way that created difficulties for US politicians, and that as a result images of subsequent conflicts have been edited to reduce negative public opinion. Several more conceptually focused artworks intersected with these ideas in intriguing ways.

Francesca Pastine's pieces from her series Iraqi Casualty Series were the most interesting of these. Three pages from the New York Times had all the text blacked out with graphite, leaving only barely recognizable images of covered bodies, coffins with a sprinkling of dirt, and a stack of diamond rings. Again the formal qualities are important to the success of the work although the emphasis here is on how they are used to present a criticality interesting idea.

The density of the graphite darkness obliterates meaning, transforming information into unreadable black columns; censorship is an obvious implication and the resulting form speaks directly to ideas that our media, in this case the New York Times, is being edited obscuring truth as it reveals only partial events. The difficulty of identifying the imagery, which has had its surroundings erased by blackness, references the difficulty of comprehension when context is stolen from us.

I was happy to find work in this show, which both compelled me as art and allowed me to ponder political themes in interesting ways that standard political communication does not usually engage.

Art of Democracy: War and Empire is on display at the Meridian Gallery through November 4, 2008. For more information, visit meridiangallery.org.


The San Francisco Chronicle
Kenneth Baker, May 31, 2008

Pastine at the Lab: Congratulations to Francesca Pastine for making Artforum involving again.

Decades ago, in simpler times, people actually looked forward to reading the magazine, when it served as the New York art world's journal of record. Since then, Artforum has followed the trajectory of the art market itself, retailing moneyed glamour and the atmospherics of contemporary art. Meanwhile, most of the intellectual substance has shifted to its outrigger, Bookforum.

Each issue of Artforum now boasts slab-like bulk and a power like kryptonite to drain the strength of any art professional who tries to face it.

But in an ingenious series showing at the Lab, Pastine has found in the magazine the makings of memorable art, by means connected incidentally to Villeglé's practice.

In "Artforums 2001: (Artforum Excavation Series)" (2008), she has meticulously carved a crater in a stack of 2001 issues. At one corner of the top cover - December - we can make out the remains of a tone-deaf banner: "Best of 2001."

The hole Pastine has cut in the magazines, stratified with color from their glossy pages, irresistibly brings to mind the physical and emotional voids left by Sept. 11 massacres.

In a related piece without obvious topical reference, she has cut an irregular hole - again looking something like a comic-book strip mine - into a single issue of the magazine, exposing a page apparently empty of all but a soft gray glow.

In two other series here, Pastine has selectively effaced pages from the New York Times to expose not very deeply underlying contradictions, such as the collision of values in advertising and war news or fashions' real and ostensible values to the women who model them and those who covet them.

Francesca Pastine: Alterations: Disfigured magazines and newspaper pages; The Lab, 2948 16th St., San Francisco.

Ripping It Up

SF WEEKLEY, By Hiya Swanhuyser, May 28, 2008

Francesca Pastine, Alterations: A 9B pencil is the softest pencil available: It's almost liquid. If it weren't made of lead it would make great eyeliner. An artist can choose to use a light touch with it, of course, but Francesca Pastine doesn't. At "Alterations," she shows three series, two of which involve the heavy application of graphite to newsprint, and one she made by slicing and curling Artforum magazines. She's interested in print publications, clearly. Back to the 9Bs: "Invisible Women" and "Iraqi Casualty" find Pastine layering their lead over pages of the New York Times in order to highlight certain images. The result reminds us of John Lennon's FBI file; the artist thinks it looks like "graphite leaf." Either way, her chosen photos stand out in a sea of darkest black while the paper's uncovered, datestamped edges remind the viewer of their official status. In the third series, "Artforum Excavations," exploded versions of the ultra-glossy last word in creative trends show an attitudinal, literal stab back at a publication that probably irritates a lot of artists.
May 29-June 14, 2008

ORNAMENTATION, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Artweek,  March 2006,

reviewed by David Buuck

"Francesca Pastine's wonderful paint-objects combined a tactile engagement with paint and a sculptural approach to display that resulted in some of the strongest work in the show.  Pastine paints canvases in thick, colorful oils, then cuts out segments and patterns, allowing them to hang down in patterns that upset conventional expectations of painting.  Her Doorknob Cozy
  takes this further, by draping a large, patterned paint "skin" over a doorknob installed in a gallery wall, creating a useless adornment that carried uncanny power."

PHOTOO, Oakland Art Gallery, San Francisco Chronicle , August, 20 2005,

reviewed by Kennith Baker

"Francesca Pastine's work looks like something left over from a differnt show, but it makes a striking impression, especially her Football Cutouts .  In each of these she has printed a sports page photo on Japanese inkjet paper, and with scissors or mat knife cut it into a frilly stencil, the incisions intervening comically or critically in the image."

The Big Tree Project
Artweek, July/August, 2003

Previews, Debra Koppman

"From a 23-inch diameter slice of the tree, Francesca Pastine created Reflect, a deep bluish-green, well-like ellipse.  This space functioned both as a deep hole and as a site of reflection, creating an ambiguous boundary between the viewer and the work.  As viewers see themselves and their environment mirrored in the work, they are invited to reflect upon their own relationships to the human and the not-human worlds in which they live."

Abstraction: Francesca Pastine, Paul Henry Ramirez, Jessica Snow and Amy Wilson
New Work: Racheal Neubauer
Rena Bransten Gallery
November 21, 2002 - January 4, 2003

reviewed by Amy Berk, in WWW.STRETCHER.COM

Lusciously erotic and formally inventive, the artworks in Abstraction , and New Work: Rachael Neubuer made a fantastic paring.  The artists in both exhibition, one of painting and the other of sculpture, relish surface textures and utilize color playfully and gracefully, to great effect.

Pastels pervade the galleries.  Pause in the Landscape (2002), Jessica Snow's delightfully contained small acrylic painting, appears on target in size and chroma.  Her larger work, Orbit (2002), seems less focused. Using white pins and yarn, the boxes of this painting continue off the panel and onto the wall, but the effect here is not as successful as her other efforts in a similar vein.  Here, the combination of material, form and shadow lacks cohesion.

Electrifying shadows activate two new works by Francesca Pastine.  In Curl  and Space Between Pink (both in 2002) Pastine uses a material close to my heart, Styrofoam, as a base for her tricky cut-outs.  This cut-out treatment appears to pay homage to recent work by sister gallery artist Irene Pijoan, whose delicate paper cut-outs have been standouts in a rich gallery program.  Pastine, however, employs painted aluminum, delicately slicing the material and pinning the intricate construction onto white Styrofoam.  A deep velvety green unfurls behind a duller gray in Curl.

More eroticism is present in the hairs, nipples and oozings of Paul Henry Ramirez's work.  He presents two untitled works on paper, one from the Space Addiction series (2002) and one from the Edging into Excess series (1999).  Ramirez effectively utilizes layering and texture in both works.  The show is rounded out by two untitled graphite drawings by Pastine (2000) and a large oil painting by Amy Wilson.  While they are strong works, they do not seem to fit well with the rest of the show's innovation and whimsy.

In the next gallery, Rachael Neubauer presents physical manifestations of some of the ideas presented in paint in Abstraction .  Her mixed media forms share highly polished surfaces and a strange sexual charge.  All are precariously attached to the wall, save one lone floor piece, and a tension develops as one wonders when gravity will have its wicked way with these bulbous forms.

Neubauer's fertile imagination continues to produce forms resonant with the body, bloated with desire, oddly inert, and fun.  Her muted palette of blue, brown, mustard, taupe and green provides startling contrast to the jewel of the show  In her first foray into bronze, Neubauer has created a Brancusian form with shadows galore whose reflective surface sparks an internal dialogue on content along with providing the pure enjoyment of its formal coherence,  Lovely (and almost sold out) small drawings on photo paper further link her physical forms with the two dimensional language advanced in Abstraction.

The pairing of these two beautifully nuance and balanced exhibitions is a treat for the senses.

Abstract, Racheal Neubauer and Chip Lord at Rena Bransten
Artweek, February 2003, Volume 94, Issue 1

reviewed by Laura Richard Janku

"Scalloping waves form boundaries between textured graphite and solid fields of yellow gouache or white paper in Francesca Pastine's two untitled drawings.  In her lacy wall sculptures, negative and positive are interwoven in an intricate pattern of decoupage. Created from sheets of dried acrylic paint, the weighty tendrils tumble over themselves like bas relief seaweed, revealing innards and inner colors.  The  work is affixed with dress pins to plain white Styrofoam-- whose cellular pattern distracts more than it adds-- the skin of the paint draping down in a fabric like manner."

Surface Tension: Pattern Painting Gains Respect, Retrospective
The Argus, The Review, The Tribune, The Herald, The Times Star

reviewed by Monique Beeker

"After studying some paintings by San Francisco artist Francesca Pastine, a woman who had spent most of the day scrubbing her bathtub told Pastine that she once experienced a revelation about the art she had seen.  

"They're about the invisibility of women's work." the woman said.

The artist did not disagree.  "I seek  to make the invisible seen, and the visible submerged."  Pastine writes in an artist's statement posted alongside her work in Surface Tension. "As in traditional women's work that requires a care and attentiveness often overlooked, the details within paintings become subsumed into the whole."

The steel canvases she favors feature rounded corners and edges tucked under as neatly as linens tucked between mattresses. The potential  coldness of the surface, however, is warmed by the organic forms she depicts.  In "Silver Lining: (2001), Pastine paints three wandering rows of flowers with diaphanous pastel petals dancing in space.  No single bloom is distinct from it's neighbors.  rather, they overlap and create a connected whole."

The Stranger
Vol. 9, No. 5
October 21-27, 1999
Page 39


Kustom Kitchen Kulture

by Erick Fredericksen

FRANCESCA PASTINE is a San Francisco Artist whose work seems Southern California: L.A. cool, not S.F. funk; 20th century L.A., not 19th Century S.F.  Her paintings, now showing in the cramped back hallway at James Harris Gallery, start with a smooth sheet of industrial stainless steel, its edges folded over into smooth, rounded edges.  She paints directly onto the metal, without gesso, undercoat, or any other preparation.  Really looking at the surface of this material is revelatory for anyone who, for reasons of inebriation or just mental tiredness, has found himself contemplating the top of a garbage can would testify.  Gray, silver, or black in spots-- depending on lighting and variations in the surface-- the steel carries a cool glow with glimmering, jewel-like highlights.  Respecting her materials,  Pastine paints only lightly on this surface, leaving much of it exposed.

Pastine's painting hand is loose yet tidy, covering the sheet with repeated forms which range from thin, wavering lines to small, stenciled blots that resemble potato prints.  There are links with mid-century art, from the minimalist grid loosely laid over one of Silent Treatment's (1999) two panels to the abstract, expressionist influenced composition of a 1998 untitled work--but I wouldn't make a simple equation out of this fact.  Pastine's work draws as much from the vernacular culture of post-war America as from its art specifically, Kustom Kulture auto pinstriping, and kitchen and bathrooms.

The kitchens and the bathrooms are the easiest to tease out.  Pastine's colors tend toward pale pink, avocado green, sky blue and bright yellow--all colors associated with '60s refrigerators, ovens, sinks and tiles.  Her forms are similarly domestic: little heart shapes arranged in flower-petal-like  groups of five in Silent Treatment and Flutter (1998), a budding tree branch form in Untitled (1996), and a curving, single line shape in the left panel of Untitled (1998) that resembles both a loose rubber band (seen as a line), and the sandpapery, flower-shaped stick-ons that keep you from slipping and bonking your head in the tub (seen as a solid).

The pinstriping reference is probably unintentional, but it's there in the sleek, thin line of her brush,  in the curves of that line, in the shininess of her metal support.  But it's a loose link: Pinstripers tend to take simple shapes of images and work them into baroque, vibrating, barely readable forms composed of many curving, crossing lines, while Pastine's complexity comes from overlapping simple shapes.  it's two different sorts of blur.  The common ground is found in a much larger tradition of decorative arts--call it "more is more."  Pure description and plainness are enemies of this tradition, which loves detail and richness.

Pastines's diptychs tend to contrast feminine and masculine forms.  The aforementioned Silent Treatment has the little heart shapes next to a steel sheet covered in a grid of spindly lines, like country home stencil-shapes matched up with graph paper.  But Pastine's grid is not strict: formed of loose, slightly wavering lines, it brings to mind Agnes Martin's delicate, human--and feminine--minimalist drawings.  Pastine's positioning is remarkable, poised at the intersection of two large art trends: feminized minimalism with no taste of  of brutal machismo, and minimalism which refers to the world outside of the hermetic discourse of art.

Which should lead me out of the art and into that world, I suppose, but it doesn't.  This is not disappointing to me, though.  Pastine's real-world references are important to her art, but it's less fun to think about those connections than it is to simply revel in the beauty of the work.

Suspended Belief (1999) uses a thin lined form looking like a closed eyelid or part of a radiant sun: a dipping horizontal curve with rays extending from its bottom.  Pastine's hand is evident in these shapes, in the way  the rays or eyelashes trail off from thicker beginnings.  A second panel is covered in pale blue: the color of sky when your eyes are open, not the blood-red you see through those closed eyelids.    This painting also uses the mid-century domestic colors of her other work--yellow, pink, light blue--but feels more outdoorsy.  Its references are less specific, which makes it more satisfying because you don't have to think about it as much.  You can just let your open eyes glance over the icons representing closed eyes, or rest them on the cool blue of the painting's other half.  Just beautiful.


curated by Anna Kunz & Leslie Baum


Leslie Baum
Molly Briggs
Fandra Chang
Pamela Fraser
Carrie Gundersdorf
Portia Hein
Laura Henke
Gosia Koscielak
Amma Kunz
Julie Ledgerwood
Teresa Mucha
Melissa Oresky
Francesca Pastine
Sue Scott
Amy Self
Stephanie Serpick
Amy Theobald
Shirley Tse


Spread: Rena Bransten Gallery, Flash Art: October 1998
reviewed by Reena Jana

"Hung nearby were visually stunning works that straddled both the real and the abstract...Francesca Pastine's gorgeous gouaches, including the ethereal Untitled, which featured delicate renditions of false eyelashes painted in irridiscent colors."


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