Pace Gallery now represents Virginia Jaramillo, a pioneering abstract painter who has been working for over six decades but has only recently experienced a resurgence of interest. Jaramillo will continue to work with Hales Gallery, which has locations in London and New York.
With this representation, Jaramillo becomes one of the few US-born Latina artists to be represented by a mega gallery. Pace will showcase her work at her booth at the inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul in September and will host a solo exhibition of her work at her upcoming Los Angeles space in May 2023. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City is currently organizing a career retrospective of her work.
“Through her meticulous, contemplative abstractions, Virginia expresses ideas about complex physical and theoretical subjects, and infuses her minimalistic compositions with emotional resonance,” said Marc Glimcher, CEO and president of Pace, in a statement. “Virginia’s explorations of space, depth and materiality create mesmerizing effects and draw us into the boundless realms of her chromatically rich, dynamic canvases.”
Best known for her “Curvilinear Paintings,” Jaramillo has long been fascinated by the simplicity – and complexity – of a single line. In a 2020 interview with ARTnews, she said: “I started removing everything from my canvas and just doing the line. How can I make this one line appear – how important is this line? Is that line as important as the negative space around it, or is the negative space around the line just as important or even more so?”
Jaramillo was born in El Paso, Texas in 1939, grew up in East Los Angeles and showed an early talent for drawing. (“Even at school I was always called Leonarda‘ she said inside her ARTnews Interview.) She attended Manual Arts High School in LA and took early lessons from Charles and Ray Eames. In 1959 her work was included in an “Annual” exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In the mid ’60s she moved to Paris with her late husband Daniel LaRue Johnson, a fellow artist who had received a Guggenheim Fellowship. This experience changed the direction of her artistic practice and renewed her commitment to process-based abstraction.
When the couple returned to the United States, they settled in New York. They were both invited to take part in the groundbreaking 1971 exhibition The DeLuxe Show, directed by artist Peter Bradley and supported by the Menil Collection. The show, presented at the seedy DeLuxe cinema in Houston’s historic Black Fifth Ward neighborhood, is often cited as the country’s first racially integrated arts exhibition. Jaramillo, a Mexican-American, was the only female and the only Latina on the show.
In 2020, ahead of the 50th anniversary celebrations of The DeLuxe Show, the Menil Collection organized Jaramillo’s first-ever solo museum exhibition. This was followed by a solo show at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York, not far from the artist’s longtime home base in Hamptons Bay.
Due to her marriage to LaRue Johnson, who was black, Jaramillo’s work has also been discussed in the history of the Black Arts movement and has been featured in a number of major touring exhibitions in recent times, including Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. (2017), We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85 (2017) and Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles” (2011). In addition, her work was included in the Center Pompidou’s exhibition “Women in Abstraction” in 2021.
Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Crystal Bridges in Arkansas, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Peréz Art Museum Miami, and the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City.
In a statement about joining Pace, Jaramillo said she remembers first visiting the gallery in the ’70s to see an Agnes Martin exhibition. “Very few female artists were exhibiting in a major New York gallery at the time,” she said. “What I saw of Martin’s work that day took my breath away. I thought how brave the artist and gallery were to show this extraordinary work, which was way outside of the norm at the time. This is my lasting impression of Pace Gallery.”