Doris Staffel, Gateless Gate

Doris Staffel: Gateless Gate (1987-1988) Acrylic and charcoal on paper
Gateless Gate
Acrylic and charcoal on paper
Credit Line
Gift of the artist, 2011
20 x 25 ½ in.

Scumbled gray marks, patterned swirls and squiggles, and simplified shapes merge in a thick, overgrown amalgam of nature. Junglelike, distinct elements seem to struggle for visibility while other marks rest below the surface, creating an underlying order and support. A gate is a portal that allows entry into a circumscribed world; through her use of line, Doris Staffel creates an impenetrable mass of marks -a gateless gate.

Staffel, who practices Tibetan Buddhism, is interested in the resolution of polarities: air in a shallow space, images that read individually but are integrated into a larger whole.

Born and raised in New York, she studied under abstract expressionist Mark Rothko at the Manhattan Center Academy. In the early 1940s she moved to Philadelphia to study painting at Tyler School of Art. She was an inspiring educator at the University of the Arts for many years; her students included Rose Naftulin and Stuart Shils.

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