Maya Kabat


Maya Kabat’s abstract oil paintings reference the urban landscape of Northern California, exploring relationships between architectural elements, California light, and the balance of color, line, plane, and space. Inspired originally by Diebenkorn’s work, Kabat often works intensely on the edges of her canvases, incorporating the external form of the object into the internal dialogue of the piece. She also usually leaves a quiet empty space in the middle of the canvas, giving absence and ground a prioritized position usually reserved for subject and form.

Unlike Diebenkorn, however, Kabat focuses intently on the physical surface of her work, mixing colors directly on the canvas to build up the image using drywall and plaster tools. Working within a limited amount of time while the paint is still malleable, she achieves a result that represents both empty space and solid forms and perfectly balances spontaneity with structure.

In her own words: “My paintings reference the urban landscape, and explore relationships between architectural elements, qualities of light, geometric abstraction, and tensions of structure, improvisation, color, and form. . . . I am interested in the push and pull of forms in space, with no direct reference points, where depth of field, scale, and perspective all come into question. I practice to create a space for myself to play and to explore relationships of contradiction and inconsistency. I paint to make sense of a world that feels solid, unchanging, and safe, while simultaneously knowing that nothing is.”


Maya Kabat has a B.A. from Oberlin and an M.F.A. from UC Davis. She has exhibited at the SFMOMA Café Museo, Claude Lane Gallery (SF), Mercury 20 Gallery (Oakland), Rogers Gallery (Portland), the Dairy Center for the Arts (Boulder), Bedford Gallery (Walnut Creek), and SLATE contemporary (Oakland). Her work appears in numerous public and private collections, including Nieman Marcus, Cisco Systems, Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Healthcare, and the Hotel Adagio. In 2015, she was awarded an artists residency at the Flotstunga nature preserve in Iceland. Maya Kabat currently lives and works in Berkeley, CA, and is represented by SLATE contemporary in Oakland.