Gahae Park: Infinite Melodies
August 16 through September 9, 2023
By ROBERT C. MORGAN, August 2023
Over the past twenty years, as a resident artist in New York City, Gahae Park has maintained her connection between art and music.
During part of the time, I have become increasingly aware of her work, specifically her cut paper gouaches, as a medium that complies visually with great works of classical music. Park’s intentions have always been intuitively clear. She visualizes art as a manner of static profusion and listens to music as a celebration of organized sound. In either case, her work is given to abstraction as a fundamental source in coming to terms with form. Just as abstraction is realized through classical music, so it remains possible when viewed as a cut paper gouache. In either case, the formal elements continue to resonate.
Although we do not hear works of art that are primarily visual, we may acquire the propensity to get close to them and see how they are positioned in relation to one another and given to their complexity. By following most any linear image on a level that asserts what might be called a work of art, the human hand and eye exceed the simplicity of craft. With Gahae Park the craft often gets lost in her concept of music within the space and time of great musicians. To observe the manner in which the various papers from around the world have been cut in order to sustain their form is an experience that parallels the sanctity of their past. The ear turns toward the eye as the cut paper is drawn in its ability to retain individual marks soon to be painted.
Whether in art or music, the specifics mean everything. During a second visit to Gahae Park’s exhibition, titled Infinite Melodies, curated by Dr. Soojung Hyun at the Artego gallery in Long Island City, I became increasingly aware of the finite details in a painting, titled Light Drawing – Rhythm in color (2023). Often the details in geometric paintings, such as this, add up to a counterpoint wherein the larger elements take over the details. Such is the case with the sixty-three circular elements that appear placed on the frontal scale of the painting. Even so, the impact of the painting remains dynamic in a way that maintains a repetition of form and color in a way that will inevitably take over the space.
Another painting in this series should be taken into consideration. The first is Light Drawing – Stars and Sky (2023), which repeats the concept of light as essential to the way we might recognize one another through time. Again, as in Light Drawing – Rhythm In color (2023), the paint in light Drawing – Blue (2023) is felt throughout the surface symbolizing the stars and sky that advance the concept of the Universe, the endless duration of detailed circles and squares within the intensity of a grid. Again, the light pours forth into a density that retains an ongoing passage throughout time. In Light Drawing: White rhythm (Poem) (2023), the cut paper lighting installations consist entirely of white squares, exempt from color, thus leaving them directly exposed to the light. The difference between these works in relation to Light Drawing – Rhythm in Color is quite staggering. In either case, light is what plays the major role. Herein I would suggest that Gahae Park has made clear that paintings, with or without color, have their own set of standards. Each work is contingent on how they confront the placement of the light and how the light functions in direct relation to the work.
Other cut paper gouache works in this exhibition, coming from a slightly different sensibility by Gahae Park, include Music Drawing, Etude in blue (2022) and Music Drawing Etude 23-1 (2023). The complexity of these off-center, brilliantly painted works in cut paper gouache by Gahae are exceptional. These are two of the major works
In the exhibition coming from all angles. The abstract consciousness in these works is brilliant, ingenious, and primarily sophisticated. These are works that will live into another era whereupon cut paper gouache will have developed to a an even greater stature
In terms of the exhibition as a whole, one might ask: What is an Infinite Melody? And what constitutes its presence in relation to the artist’s work? First, there are two parts to the title. The word Infinite refers to the Universe that may go on forever; and the second Melody refers to a simple musical notation that instills pleasure in the mind of the listener. Placed together, the words suggest an unending abstract consciousness together with a leisure presence. Specifically, for Gahae Park, we live in a world of potential harmony if we could only stop to see and feel it. This is simplistic, of course, but also poetic. Its outreach can be felt without the academic words. WM
Robert C. Morgan is an educator, art historian, critic, poet, and artist. Knowledgeable in the history and aesthetics of both Western and Asian art, Morgan has lectured widely, written hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published monographs and books, and curated numerous exhibitions. He has written reviews for Art in America, Arts, Art News, Art Press(Paris), Sculpture Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. His catalog essays have been published by Gagosian, Pace, Sperone Westwater, Van Doren Waxter, White Cube (London), Kukje (Seoul), Malingue (Hong Kong), and Ink Studio (Beijing). Since 2010, he has been New York Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, both published in Hong Kong. He teaches in the Graduate Fine Arts Program at Pratt Institute as an Adjunct Professor and at the School of Visual Arts.
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