© Paolo Arao

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Paolo Arao


Artist Statement

I make sewn paintings and installations that are rooted in geometric abstraction. I am mending this lineage of abstraction through the use of textiles; stitching a patchwork of multivalent identity that explores the elastic nature of queerness and reflects my Filipino heritage.

Color, (a)symmetry, materiality and imperfection are formally and conceptually interwoven. Made with hand-dyed fabrics, second-hand clothing, hand woven fibers and weathered canvas, the works resemble flags or quilts, often carrying physical traces of the bodies that wore them, imbuing the work with intimacy and personal history.

Honoring the textile traditions of my heritage, I incorporate motifs and color of Philippine textiles. I use dizzying patterns believed to ward off evil spirits and the diamond shape to symbolize a protective and watchful eye. Color is vital to my work. My relationship to color is not passive. It is political, it’s personal, it’s emotional, it is felt and it is in my very being.

© Paolo Arao

Paolo Arao's Portfolio

© Paolo Arao

Artist Biography

Paolo Arao is a Brooklyn-based, Filipino-American artist working with textiles. He received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Arao has shown his work widely and has presented solo exhibitions at David B. Smith Gallery (Denver). Glass Box (Seattle), Western Exhibitions (Chicago), Franklin Artworks (Minneapolis), and Jeff Bailey Gallery (NYC.)

Residencies include: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), Millay Colony, Studios at MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Residency, NARS Foundation, Wassaic Project, BRIC Workspace, Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Fire Island Artist Residency. He is a recipient of an Artist Fellowship from The New York Foundation for the Arts. His work has been published in New American Paintings, ArtMaze Magazine, Maake Magazine and Esopus.



© Paolo Arao

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