Paul Pagk paints his rigorously constructed abstractions freehand, and he creates his nuanced color palette by grinding raw pigment in oil. These chromatic compositions are embodiments of his visual, intellectual, and intuitive explorations, as he constantly pushes against boundaries in search of new avenues. The canvas becomes a stage upon which lines and spaces engage in a dance choreographed by the artist’s hand. The colors and the shapes, geometric or biomorphic, converse with one another through an interplay of contrasts and inversions. This complex system of silent rhythms resonating between the paintings acts as a musical score for us to follow. At times, the lines and figures run off the canvas edge, compelling our imagination to go beyond the picture plane. Paul Pagk’s desire and his intent is for viewers to become physically absorbed in color and space, in the painting itself, as they get lost in the layered depths of color while wondering about their own perception.
The American artist and theoretician Chris Ashley writes: “The spaces and construction in Pagk’s paintings and drawings appear logical but are often slightly and suddenly otherwise: they may not abide by the absolute rules of perspective or physics, or are sometimes simply incomplete or unexpected. Each work’s image, however, a combination of field, diagram, and gesture, is a definite structural place emanating light and atmosphere. Scale may be either or both intimate and monolithic. Color is strong yet natural, marks are searching yet confident, surface is built yet porous. Pagk’s work hints at primal imagery, presenting a wide variety of spaces of "intimacy and immensity," and create material situations, visual structures, and pictorial space that prompt affective responses, the poetic imagination, and identification of and yearning for archetypal places and spaces, and the body’s relationship to these things. A citation of Bachelard reminds us of the primacy and experience of the kinds of images Pagk conjures: ‘The grace of a curve is an invitation to remain. We cannot break away from it without hoping to return. For the beloved curve has nest-like powers; it incites us to possession, it is a curved corner, inhabited geometry’ .”
Paul Pagk was born in 1962 to an English painter mother and a Czech father, and grew up between London, Vienna and Paris. After studying at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1978 to 1982, he set up a studio in an abandoned factory in Menilmontant (55 Rue des Panoyaux). In 1983, at the age of 20, he met the gallerist Jean Fournier who began to collect his work and to represent him. In 1988, he moved to New York, into a legendary building in Tribeca overlooking the Hudson River, where he continues to live and work to this day. In 1990, Pagk was included in the exhibition "Three Painters" organized by Tim Nye in SoHo. A year later, he inaugurated the Thread Waxing Space art center with a solo show, followed in 1993 by a highly acclaimed second solo show. Since then, his work has been exhibited regularly in United States (CRG Gallery, Moti Hasson Gallery, Exit Art, Miguel Abreu Gallery, among others) and in Europe, most notably in France where he is represented by the Eric Dupont gallery.
Paul Pagk is a recipient of numerous awards: Prix Fénéon 1987; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant 1998 & 2012; Sheldon Bergh Prize 2000; Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant 2012; Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant 2014; NYSCA / NYFA Artist Fellowship in Painting 2018.