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Maya Kabat

Always Already Anew

July 20August 31, 2024


This image illustrates a link to the exhibition titled Maya Kabat: Always Already Anew

Press Release

Vielmetter Los Angeles is pleased to announce Always Already Anew, Maya Kabat’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, featuring new paintings that explore abstraction and embodiment.

Kabat investigates a kinetic and visceral physicality—both in the paintings themselves and in our relationship and response to the work. Each painting is composed of richly patterned and luminously colored rectilinear forms; the paint surfaces vibrate with slabs, ridges, and peaks. Working with thick applications of oil paint mixed directly on the canvas, Kabat uses drywall tools of different sizes to create these various angular forms; the accretions of color are built up layer by layer as she pushes the tools across the canvas. Linear elements build up alongside the rectangles, suggesting the motion of her arm and body as she pulls the tool across the surface. Her intense physical process balances structure and improvisation in an intuitive manner that is at once tectonic and organic.

Kabat explores the relationships between color, geometry, and materiality through referencing the body and rural and urban landscapes. By calibrating color and form in space, she conveys depth of field, scale, and perspective all at once. Each canvas embodies the form and shape of the finished work, the colors linking the greens and grays of the landscape with the purples, reds, and rusts of the body. The structure of each canvas is built around a vivid central radiating core, which also serves as an offering to the viewer as a contemplative, meditative moment.

Driven by the exploration of the haptic and sensual, Kabat creates works that speak to our sense of touch and proprioception to bring us closer to our bodies and the physical world. She highlights the materiality of each canvas to push against the constant digital flow that disconnects us from an embodied experience in the world. Her practice connects back to the feeling and texture of having a body with an endlessly beating heart and a constant, pulsing breath. She engages her own internal kinetic and corporeal reality, and that tangible physical quality is manifested in each work.

The exhibition unfolds in the “Greenhouse” gallery at Vielmetter Los Angeles, as the building itself becomes a metaphor for the cultivation of an interior physical awareness. Kabat’s work suggests that this nonverbal understanding invites a deeper connection to the rich experience of the material world around us. The movement of the forms across the surface mirror the movements of our bodies—our breath, the curve of our spines, and the puzzle of interlocking inner organs—and suggest resonances or physical vibrations from the paintings through our bodies. For example, the interlocking and stacked components in the diptych Always Already Again (Resonance) (2023) speak to each other and respond to the echoes from the adjacent panel.

The exhibition title, Always Already Anew, references Kabat’s sense of deep time or deep knowing and the idea of eternal spring renewal. Kabat cites Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) as an influential text that frames her practice through the philosophical examination of conditions without a specific beginning or end point. For her, materials, objects, and touch all provide an ongoing engagement with time, knowledge, and rebirth, thus renewing a connection with our bodies and souls.

About the artist

Maya Kabat (b. 1971, Portland, Oregon) is based in Oakland, California. She received a BA from Oberlin College in 1993 in Anthropology and Art History and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Davis, in 2000. She was a founding member of the artist-run gallery, Mercury Twenty, in Oakland, California, and served as president on the Oakland Art Murmur Board of Directors in 2011-2013. In 2016 she attended The London Intensive, a residency sponsored by the Camden Arts Centre in London, England, which culminated in an exhibition at the museum. In 2018 she attended the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation Artist Residency in New Berlin, New York. In 2022 she attended the Gambrell Gallery Artist Residency in Ashland, Oregon, which culminated in an exhibition at the gallery.

Her studio is located in Oakland, California, at The Dome—workspaces established in 1976 by the artists Anne and Peter Voulkos.