Respiration Paintings, Pittsburgh, PA

Curated by Sarah Hall

April 15th – October 22nd 2017

7227 Reynolds Street
Pittsburgh, PA

All film stills courtesy of JPC Eberle from Elise Adibi, Respiration Paintings made by Filmmaker JPC Eberle, 2017


View the Catalogue for Respiration Paintings: Frick Catalogue

View Guide to Plants in Respiration Paintings

PITTSBURGH, PA, March 27, 2017— The Frick Pittsburgh announces the first‐ever exhibition of art in its greenhouse, opening to the public on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Located on a nearly six‐acre site in Pittsburgh’s east end, the Frick’s historic grounds feature lush gardens, a diverse selection of trees, and an active greenhouse, which will be transformed by nationally recognized contemporary artist Elise Adibi into a living environment of plants and paintings. Elise Adibi: Respiration Paintings will remain on view through October 15, 2017. Admission is free.

Elise Adibi: Respiration Paintings represents a continuation of the trajectory of Adibi’s work over the last several years, happily coinciding with the Frick’s desire to begin to creatively activate additional spaces on its grounds and engage contemporary artists. This is the most recent in a series of collaborative projects which began nearly 20 years ago. Elise Adibi: Respiration Paintings demonstrates the Frick’s continuing commitment to using the voices and works of artists to meaningfully engage its audience, its spaces, and its collections with issues and ideas relevant to the present day. Respiration Paintings marks the first time the Frick will take the art out of the museum and create a multisensory installation experience in its historic greenhouse.

The inspiration for this project developed from Adibi’s frequent use of plant materials and organic matter in her studio practice. Her paintings often incorporate pigments formulated from plant oils, adding scent to the visual experience of form and color. In this installation, Adibi works with the innate characteristics of the greenhouse—making use of the natural light, seasonal changes, and elevated humidity to both display and transform her artwork. Though the heat and humidity of the greenhouse portend a most challenging environment for the paintings, Adibi acknowledges the risk, but believes the experience of viewing the paintings in the living environment is worth the uncertain fates of the pieces.

Respiration Paintings comprises 18 paintings installed in the north and south wings of the greenhouse and two paintings in vitrines at The Frick Art Museum. These paintings—abstractions based on the grid, oxidation paintings made with a mixture of urine on copper, and what Adibi calls “plant paintings,” made by pouring pigments mixed with essential plant oils—are installed to create a visual rhythm with plantings that the artist planned in collaboration with the Frick’s grounds manager, Kim Rothert. The plants were selected to resonate with the paintings in terms of scent and color. In spring, tulips bloom in the south wing—to be replaced as the season changes, while the north wing has been conceived as a rose garden. Citrus trees also add both color and scent. Viewing benches and structural stands built to display the paintings have been painted a rosy pink hue, custom mixed by the artist, and scented to create a one‐of‐a‐kind sensory experience.

Repeat visitors will see the plants mature and change through the exhibition. Some of the paintings, particularly the oxidations, may visibly change in response to the humidity through the six‐month course of the show. Respiration Paintings is designed to create an immersive environment of plants, paintings scents, colors, and images exploring the interconnection and intimate relationship between art, nature and people.

Robin Nicholson, Executive Director of The Frick Pittsburgh, says, “I am thrilled that the Frick has the opportunity to work with Elise Adibi, expanding our tradition of working with contemporary artists to engage in compelling dialogues with our historic collection in a new way that is not confined to the art museum galleries.” Beginning with a residency by renowned Brazilian camera artist Vik Muniz in 1999, the Frick has engaged contemporary artists to create work that provides fresh perspectives on the museum and its collections. In addition to Muniz, these artists include Christian Milovanoff, Linn Meyers, Aaronel deRoy Gruber, and most recently, Chris Antemann.