Patton Blackwell’s work is deeply rooted in her experience of her surroundings, and her desire to translate this experience to the canvas. Blackwell captures the essence of atmosphere and landscape in her use of color, action, and brush stroke. Infused with beauty and passion, Blackwell’s paintings embody both the tangible and the intangible. From the lush green rolling fields and dense foliage of Camden, South Carolina, where her home and studio are located, to the streets of Rio de Janerio during Carnival, to time spent on the Aegean Sea, Blackwell creates mosaics of swirling paint that radiate light and power, reflecting moments and spaces in time that are both active and meditative, universal and timeless. Referencing the works of such artists as Willem de Kooning, and Wassily Kandinsky, Blackwell’s paintings recall the physicality and emotion of de Kooning’s animated brushwork while evoking the spiritual resonance of Kandinsky’s later work.
Patton Blackwell was born on May 6, 1949 in Columbia, South Carolina, and was raised in St Paul, Minnesota, where she graduated from The Summit School (1967) and Macalester College (1974) in Cultural Geography. In 1975, Blackwell left for 3 years to travel, work and study in Europe, Israel, Turkey and North Africa. Part of this time she studied French Language and Literature at the Sorbonne, worked at a vineyard chateau near Bordeaux, lived in a Kibbutz in Israel and traveled more intensively in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In 1980, Blackwell moved to The Experiment in International Living (a multicultural college and living environment) in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she completed her Master’s in Intercultural/International Management (1997). The program brought her to Brazil in 1982, at a time when Brazil was coming to prominence in the international art world as an important center for contemporary art. Fostering a rich exchange of Brazilian and international art and artists, the Sao Paulo Biennial created a lively stage and venue for cultural cross-pollination and commerce. In 1983, Blackwell enrolled in The Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. Located in a historic palace restored by the Italian architect, Mario Vodrel, in the 1920’s, and surrounded by a natural subtropical setting under Corcovado, both the setting and culture of the school greatly enriched the artistic atmosphere and experience for Blackwell. During this time, she studied with the influential painter Luiz Aquila, as well as Claudio Kuperman, and John Nicholson, and was fully immersed in the cultural epicenter of the Geração Oitenta (80’s Generation)–an abstract art movement which strongly impacted her work, and marked a defining time in Brazilian art history. In 1986, she moved her studio from Copacabana to Rua Tavares Bastos, a street in one of the historical areas of Rio. During her 14 years in Brazil, Blackwell traveled widely throughout the country for one-person and group exhibitions of her work.
In 1996, Blackwell returned to Camden, South Carolina where she lives and works. While her current work continues to be influenced by her surroundings through her explorations of intensity of color and the fluidity of paint, her recent work is also a reflection of her exploration of the inner landscape, from looking deep within. Since returning to the United States, Blackwell’s paintings have been exhibited at the Camden Fine Arts Center, the Columbia Museum of Art, and have toured as part of the United States Art in Embassies program in Egypt, Qatar, Romania, Honduras, Guatemala and Myanmar (Burma). Her work is featured in collections in the U.S., Brazil, France, Japan and England.
Photos were taken by Seth Johnson.
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