Judy Pfaff  Fish Story, 2021  Steel, melted plastic, acrylic, paper lanterns, fluorescent and neon lighting  142.2 x 434.3 x 88.9 cm / 56 x 171 x 45 in

Judy Pfaff

Fish Story, 2021

Steel, melted plastic, acrylic, paper lanterns, fluorescent and neon lighting

142.2 x 434.3 x 88.9 cm / 56 x 171 x 45 in

Press Release

Judy Pfaff


Through February 18, 2022

Gaa Gallery Provincetown


Gaa Gallery is pleased to present opsins, a solo exhibition of new work by Judy Pfaff. In her third solo exhibition at Gaa Gallery, Pfaff will install recent sculptures and works on paper. With an opening reception on Wednesday, September 1, from 6 - 8 pm, the exhibition will run through  February 18, 2022 at Gaa Gallery Provincetown, located at 494 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA.


Characterized by an expansive and maximal use of material and space, the work of Judy Pfaff defies easy categorization. Often regarded as a pioneer of Installation Art and a contributor of the Pattern and Decoration movement, Pfaff’s work expands and hybridizes sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography to produce installations and spatial intervention that have been described as painting in space. Her ever-evolving practice mines material culture, architecture, and the natural world for forms that are transformed and then visually and materially entangled. Often highly influential and responsive to the spaces they inhabit, Pfaff’s immersive installations, abound with dimension and reciprocity, reference the thresholds of spaces- interior and exterior, the constructed and organic, the physical and temporal.


Comprised of organic forms and prismatic elements of undulating light, Pfaff’s recent sculptures incorporate a breadth of materials. Melted plastic takes on a dimension of fluidity. Expandable foam that has been pigmented and marbleized is applied to objects, building volume while also suspending and oozing through forms. Transparent acrylic strips, simultaneously frozen and in flux, twist around masses of melted plastic, foam, paper lanterns, exhaust hose, twigs, and faux flowers. Installed en masse, a recent series of smaller-scale sculptures offers brief and evocative vignettes assembled to form a descriptive account of material and form. In the surrounding space, larger sculptural forms affixed to the wall radiate light. Neon tubes, string lights, a motorized electric disco light, and their resultant projection of shadow and light transform the sculptural object into an evocative and experiential space.


Installed alongside Pfaff’s sculptural works, her drawings on found handmade paper are vibrant and abounding with layers of oil stick and encaustic. Repetition of circular forms, synchronized patterning of lines, geometric shapes, and radial motifs are rendered on vintage ledger paper. These works on paper are then encased in artist-made frames. Intimately scaled singular drawings are framed by wood treated with silver leaf. In larger horizontal wall pieces, several drawings are sequenced and arranged in acrylic ghost frames, which expose an underlying backdrop. Behind the drawings, glimpses of a photographic image digitally distorted and applied to a metal backing exceed the borders of the drawings creating a kind of Mise en abyme composed of abstracted, fragmented forms. Illuminating voids, thresholds, and in-between spaces, Pfaff’s sculptural works and works on paper create dramatic and generous environments. Exuberant and sometimes somber, Pfaff’s work celebrates material spaciousness while pointing to something simultaneously finite and infinite.


Judy Pfaff (b. 1946, London) received a BFA from Washington University Saint Louis (1971) and an MFA from Yale University (1973), where she studied with Al Held. She exhibited work in the Whitney Biennials of 1975, 1981, and 1987 and represented the United States in the 1998 Sao Paulo Bienal. Her pieces reside in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum of Art, Tate Gallery, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Detroit Institute of Arts, among others. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center (2014), the MacArthur Foundation Award (2004), and the Guggenheim Fellowship (1983). Pfaff lives and works in Tivoli, New York.