Pacita Abad created 'Evil eye' in 1983 based on the handwoven design of bread basket covers that she bought in the open air market of Omdurman, Sudan during her stay in the country in 1979. Pacita used these basket covers in her house and then became inspired to make her first trapunto painting based on this design. She began this painting in her Boston studio in 1982 and completed the sewing and embellishment in Manila in 1983. She hung the painting vertically.
She created 'Evil Eye' based on the traditional tribal belief that the malevolent glare can cause misfortune to those who are not protected by special charms or talismans to repel the gaze of the evil eye. A number of people were intrigued by the painting, but they said the title was too scary to hang in a house. To mollify superstitous clients, she reluctantly renamed the painting 'Watermelon' after the fruit, and hung it horizontally, though she continued to refer to it as ‘Evil Eye', which she preferred.
After she finished making it with painted and hand-stitched cut up strips of cloth, she then was inspired to connect it with a mask that she had done separately. The result was 'African Mephisto', which began the start of her extensive "Masks and Spirits” series of mixed media trapunto paintings.
'Evil Eye' is on show in Gallery 13 at the National Gallery.