Considering the challenges that life has thrown her way, Patricia Kaufman is remarkably attuned to its goodness. After all, Kaufman says, all her life events led her to her art, a personal journey for 40-plus years.
“My life’s experiences have provided the catalyst for the birth of my paintings,” Kaufman says. “Art is my life. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Kaufman’s oil paintings brim with rich creativity, symbolism, and the subconscious mind. Almost all contain threads of personal history, such as Grandmother’s Garden, which depicts a young girl kneeling, head bowed, over rows of flowers stretching into the far distance and lilies in the foreground providing a talisman of protection, all under a sapphire-colored sky. It is at once deeply somber and joyful. The kinetic Heart Chakra focuses on a dancer, with allusions to mysticism, yoga, and the body’s chakras.
Though she is often influenced by poets and philosophers, such as the 13th century mystical poet Rumi, she is not afraid to bare her deepest joys and wounds in her oil paintings. After a difficult childhood, Kaufman entered a disastrous marriage. After divorcing, she went on welfare and put herself through the University of New Hampshire, earning a bachelor of fine arts and a master’s degree in art education. While rebuilding her life, her son was paralyzed in a fall at age 21.
Her life today, in New Market, New Hampshire, with travel to the Cape for exhibits and visits with friends, is filled with personal exploration and painting, her sacred ritual. “We’re connected to some inner guidance,” she says. “We don’t really do anything alone,” she says. As she sits before an empty canvas, she connects with her subconscious, trusting that the stories that emerge are the real deal. Always, she is “moving through the piece.” What begins as a playful manipulation of colors and shapes expands into androgynous figures, landscapes, and underwater images, fantastical, symbolic, and deeply meaningful.
Art is a permanent fixture in Kaufman’s life, as crucial as water and air. As she says, “The art has saved my life.”
Patricia Kaufman’s art may be seen at Bowersock Gallery, 373 Commercial Street, Provincetown, and Mount Dora, FL (bowersockgallery.com). A show of her work is being held at Bowersock’s Provincetown location on August 17th.