From an early age, Eugenia Pardue enjoyed the beauty and richness of engaging with tactile elements, as she experimented with painting, drawing and most importantly clay. Moving from Los Angeles to Minnesota as a teenager, she grew up on a farm. After graduating from high school, Pardue moved to New Orleans and subsequently to Miami to study nutrition. It was not until fate took its coarse when Pardue enrolled in a ceramics class at Florida International University, Miami that her artistic career took focus. She changed her major to painting and was awarded her Bachelors of Fine Art in 1990. While at college, she found herself influenced by the German Expressionists and in particular Egon Schiele, Emile Nolde and Chaim Soutine whose works were marked by the application of paint rather than traditional representation. Like the Expressionists, Pardue created works whose language spoke of the surface and texture, distortion of line and the layering of color. She used her brush as a tool to carve into the paint, as she saw the process of creation of as a fusion between painting and sculpture.
Dedicated to academia, Pardue enrolled at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina to become a professor. While at Clemson, Pardue discovered the paintings of Bay Area Figurative artist Richard Diebenkorn. Looking back at the Abstract Expressionists, Diebenkorn created his own abstract vocabulary where he painted planes of color and coupled them with organic shapes. Pardue like Diebenkorn decided to depart from the figure and rather concentrate on the organization of space through biomorphic shapes and color. Pardue graduated from Clemson University in 1998 with a Masters of Fine Art.
After Clemson, Pardue moved to Portland, Oregon where she taught at Portland Community College, from 1999 to 2009 and then at Portland State University, from 2001 to 2004 all the while creating her art. Philosophically, Pardue began to explore mysticism in the various cultures and religions of the world. Historically, she referenced the visual language of artist Piet Mondrian who founded Neo-Plasticism which believed a new utopia brought about through harmonious alignments. Through these processes of exploration, Pardue developed her own vocabulary in paint. This new language had as one of its tenants the illusion of plasticity as it applies to the surface of painting.
In conjunction with a residency at the Atlin Art Centre in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada in 2003, Pardue eliminated oils from her stable and embraced the acrylic body medium. She worked with fabric and textiles along with gallons of paint. She chose to confront the contemporary dilemmas of paintings as written about in magazines such as “Art Forum” and “Art in America” where art became about the non-painting. Pardue, in turn, decided to address this manifesto head on by showcasing the versatility and complexity of painting as a subject in and of itself.
Through the workshop the “Paintings Edge” in 2004, Pardue was introduced to Claremont Graduate University professor and Los Angeles based artist Roland Reiss. Reiss works in collage to create interior environments that are characterized by multiple dimensionality. They speak to the parallels between time and space and our reality of perceptions as it pertains to relativity. Inspired by Reiss’ progressive concepts of the evolution of painting, Pardue decided to push the medium of paint to its extremes and ask what constitutes a painting.
After a review in the “Oregonian” in 2005, Pardue came back to the fundamental question about her work: color or surface. This became a departure point for Pardue as she left color behind and focused solely on the surface of the work. In 2006, Pardue participated in the “Milkwood Artist Residency” in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. Here she developed her work as seen today where she paints in tonal variants of white applying decorative motives and architectural elements. There is a luscious tension of the forms that allows the viewer to move inside and outside the composition. Her works take on the feminine quality of organic shapes while using a medium that is completely fluid. Shadow and shape are the subjects. Pardue grounds herself in the process and materials. Each piece elicits a visceral reaction while making associations with the natural world of flora and fauna. Her language is about beauty and is both visual and descriptive. Yet, each work reflects upon the past of Baroque elegance where design evoked the majesty of nature and these elements were metaphors for the human condition. Pardue combines symbolism and innovation of the medium of paint to speak to a new dialog in painting. In all, Pardue’s works embark on a path of transcendence where we are asked to partake in a higher consciousness and aesthetic embodiment of beauty.