By Moira Roth and Diane Tani
As we worked on the research for this catalogue, we became increasingly aware of the richness of Bernice Bing’s art and thinking, together with the intriguing complexities of her history over the past three decades. She was a full fledged member of a loosely formed group of young artists in San Francisco at the start of the Sixties. She received early critical acclaim for her work ( witness the 1961 Batman Gallery one-person exhibition and the 1963-1964 Artforum reviews). This large SOMAR exhibition of Bing’s 1985-1991 art provides a wonderful opportunity to see her current paintings, but it also provides a moment in which to reflect on her artistic story. It is obvious to us that the time has come to resituate Bernice Bing within the context of American abstract art annals, an act that will affect the future reading of that history. (Valerie Soe’s essay has made a formidable case for the originality of Bing’s merging of Western and Eastern sources.) Equally, Bing must be far more centrally placed than is now the case in contemporary Bay Area art records. Finally, Bing must be studied in the context of Asian American art history, a history that is vigorously being constructed by various researchers around the country. Margo Machida, Bob Lee, Elaine Kim, Betty Kano and others are hard at work investigating aspects of this highly important, but insufficiently known chronicle. In this history, as in the one concerning Bay Area and American abstract art, Bernice Bing is a compelling presence.
Collaborating with the artist on this catalogue has been an inspiring experience, and we would like to thank her deeply for all her help and for the use of her archives in Philo.
We would also like to thank warmly the following for their generous contributions: Dorothy Borbidge, D. Jill Bray, Jerry Burchard, Robert Dawson, Bob Hsiang, Rupert Jenkins, Susan Maney, Pat Perigo, Rapidlab, Christina R. Sablan and Valerie Soe.
In conjunction with this exhibition, Beth Beasley has edited a short video on Bing: footage of the artist’s house and studio shot in Philo last year.
September 12 – October 12, 1991
Edited by Moira Roth & Diane Tani
Preface by Moria Roth & Diane Tani