Joohyun Kang and Costas Picadas
Particle to Matter
Paris Koh Fine Arts
Curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos
October 10-31, 2023
By MARK BLOCH, November 2023. This exhibition’s title refers to the primordial gumbo where life originated on this planet when gases and “geochemical gradients created by mother Earth” got together to create a “deep-sea hydrothermal vent” according to the curator Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos, who is pretty good at bringing things together herself. Not only is she showcasing these two talented artists but her collaboration with the venerable gallerist Suechung Koh has created an irresistable feast for the eyes and food for thought. The gallery was packed with striking abstract works of art that could just easily be depicting a scene of the cosmos exploding as nuclear fission.
Vrachopoulos cites her artists’ “morphologically and philosophically engaged” work and I would add that in addition to its palpable grounded-ness, it also emanates with an ethereal spiritual quality. I have previously written about Mr. Picadas’ outstanding work (here and here) but today I would like to focus on an unexpected excitement I found in the paintings of Joohyun Kang. The artist, who lives in both Seoul and New Jersey, has exhibited at Artist Space and Exit Art, as well as in Milan, and in various venues in her native South Korea.
“I visualize landscapes that dwell in my dreams and inner world,” she says, but when I probed for more information I learned that she also rocks back and forth between blindingly close physical examination of her surfaces and the obvious material craftsmanship with which she engages them and more detached, far-away views as she contemplates her canvases from afar, bringing in the expansive perspective that Dr. Vrachopoulos (and Picadas, also) draw attention to. Kang sometimes encrusts her oil-based works with with sparkling materials like sequins and beads while she, indeed, “studies the universe and its infinitude,” as explained by the curator. She also depicts in two dimensional space complicated “multilayered aspects and life cycles that repeat and extinguish themselves while trying to survive.”
Kang, who graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in 1998, disorients as she soothes the viewer in the earliest works here, from 2017 and 2019 respectively, The Flow of Water I and Rocks Become Mountains. In the former, a mixed media work, I see what may or may not be a horizon line that seems to plumb the depths of a mysterious landscape while the second, in oil, appears to be from the vantage point of looking down on what could be a human head seen from above or even a forest.
A piece from the Pandemic era, Scent of Rain I creates a misty network in synch with the both its title and the exhibition’s theme, to which three recent works from 2023 also testify dramatically. In Ceaseless Fountain I, Eternal Light and Explosion I see both alluring combinations of organic, undulating physical forms and the equivalents of effervescent neurons relaying psychic waves as they weave, pop and pause, breathing information. Light and darkness swirl around a vortex in dances between yin and yang that seem to have transcendantly emanated from Kang’s otherworldly brushes. WM
Mark Bloch is a writer, performer, videographer and multi-media artist living in Manhattan. In 1978, this native Ohioan founded the Post(al) Art Network a.k.a. PAN. NYU's Downtown Collection now houses an archive of many of Bloch's papers including a vast collection of mail art and related ephemera. For three decades Bloch has done performance art in the USA and internationally. In addition to his work as a writer and fine artist, he has also worked as a graphic designer for ABCNews.com, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and PO Box 1500 NYC 10009.
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