Maya Kabat’s abstract oil paintings reference the California urban landscape, exploring relationships between architectural elements, California light, and the balance of color, line, plane, and space. Her most recent work uses intense colors and linear compositions to impart a strong sense of movement that carries more of the energy (if less of the visual likeness) of contemporary urban life, while also referencing California’s spacious land and sea-scapes.
Inspired originally by Diebenkorn’s work, Kabat often leaves a quiet empty space in the middle of the canvas, giving absence and ground a prioritized position usually reserved for subject and form. Unlike Diebenkorn, however, Kabat focuses intently on the physical surface of her work, mixing colors directly on the canvas to build up the image using drywall and plaster tools. Working within a limited amount of time while the paint is still malleable, she achieves a result that represents both empty space and solid forms and perfectly balances spontaneity with structure. In her own words:
My paintings explore the relationships of structure, geometry, color, and texture. I work with thick slabs of oil paint applied with flat tools intended for use with drywall compound. Areas of the surface are built, un-built, layered, mixed and remixed as the paintings evolve. I am interested in the push and pull of structures and forms in space, with no direct reference point, where depth of field, scale and perspective all come into question. In response to our obsession with the digital, the sculptural nature of my work emphasizes the haptic nature of our reality. Despite all our efforts to escape into the screen, we can’t escape our bodies. We are living, breathing, pulsating beings. I force the issue, by creating surfaces that are visceral and dense with slabs, ridges and peaks. To understand these works, the body must be present.
Maya Kabat received an MFA from the University of California, Davis, in 2000. Notable exhibitions include a solo show at the Caffe Museo at SFMOMA in 2012, a two-person exhibition at 5 Claude Lane Gallery in San Francisco, California, which was reviewed in Art LTD. Magazine, and an exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre in London in 2016. She was a founding member of Mercury Twenty Gallery in Oakland, and served as President on the Oakland Art Murmur Board of Directors from 2011 to 2012. She has been awarded artist residencies at the Flotstanga Nature Preserve in Iceland, and at the London Intensive, a residency sponsored by the Camden Arts Centre and the Slade School of Fine Art. Notable corporate collections include Kaiser Permanente, Cisco Systems, Neiman Marcus, and Stanford Healthcare. Maya Kabat currently lives and works in Berkeley, CA, and has been represented by SLATE contemporary in Oakland since 2012