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Artistic journeys: Potomac Resident Pat Kagan Focuses on the Abstract

Written by: Aaron Leibel Arts Editor

Pat Kagan

Pat Kagan's life can be seen as a series of odysseys -- a journey to a new country, a return to an art she had abandoned long ago and a radical change in the way she approaches her craft.

The sometimes peripatetic Potomac resident is displaying her paintings in an exhibit, Quintessential Color, at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea in New York City through April 10.

The emotional paintings are part of a series of 20 which, when lined up, tell a story. “It was like reading a book,” Rollyson said. The series was also among the first abstracts painted by Rollyson two years ago.

Born into a nonobservant, but Jewishly active family in Johannesburg in 1943, she received a teacher's certificate in music from the University of South Africa, and taught piano and music theory. In 1977, Kagan came to live in the United States and began her career as a "professional student," she says. Studying philosophy of music, economics, chemistry and physics, among other subjects, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1990. "I wanted to graduate before my children," she quips.

“When her daughter, Gianna, came back from Florence, Italy, some 12 years ago and Kagan saw the paintings she was doing, she began to have regrets about a decision made many years ago in South Africa. "When I graduated high school, I had to choose between art and music, and I chose music mistakenly," she recalls. "I should have gone into art, and I would have had my career for the rest of my life." So, Kagan decided to do the next best thing to turning back the clock -- she became a student in Montgomery College's art department.

"I started with basic drawing and tried sculpture and painting in different mediums and design," she says. "I have been painting ever since." Among the galleries that have exhibited her work are the Glenview Mansion Art Gallery in Rockville, Poltrona Frau in Georgetown and the Colour Art Studio & Gallery in Silver Spring. At first, she painted portraits of Africans in traditional dress from photos taken in South Africa. But she gradually became more interested in abstract work. "I got bored with realistic stuff," the artist says. "I wanted to do something that came more from within me, that was more individual."

All her pieces at the Agora Gallery are "nonrepresentational," she says. Her interest in music may well influence her painting, Kagan says. "People have written they see something rhythmical in my art," she says. "Often when I paint, I listen to classical music so it is quite possible."

Image Credits: Divided Uteris, 2007 Oil & Rustoleum on Paper 50" x 48"

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