By ROBERT C. MORGAN, April 2019
Gahae Park: Music Drawing – Rhythm and Variation
Gallery Yonhee (Korean Community Center)
100 Grove Street, 2nd floor
Tenafly, New Jersey 07670
Over the years, I have come into contact with the “music drawings” of the Korean-born artist Gahae Park. The drawings suggest both a systemic and intuitive process, which she employs in the creation of her work. While this may lack total comprehension for the viewer, the fact is that language always falls short of the actual experience. She is transcribing music into art.
Upon seeing the grid patterns on the walls of the gallery, there is an elegant beauty that comes to the forefront of my attention, a precision that adds a demeanor of elasticity and clarity to the process visualizing music in a way that gives the excitement of listening to a fugue or a concerto or even a sonata. Clearly J. S. Bach is a favorite subject in her work.
There is always the systemic reading of her precise cur-paper forms accompanied by carefully conceived choices of sporadic color that, for a better word, symbolize the tone and the timbre of the music she wants to exemplify and transform into a visually tactile language.
Park has an accurate sense of how to do this. Her refinement and distillation of cut-paper geometry repeats with total accuracy as we see in works such as No. 2 Music Drawing-Etude (2018) or No. 8 Music Drawing – Rhythm in Blue (2019). These works have a certain fastidious appearance, a way of being in time and space, that takes music to another level, a higher level of formal clarity and understanding. What we see in these works is a density and lightness interwoven with one another. The notations sparkle with lightness and the geometry ignite the density of support, the underlying structure that is virtually present in each of her works.
One of the larger and most eloquent works shown in the Yonhee Gallery in Tenafly is titled Music Drawing – Poem Sunlight (2018-19). which includes twenty-seven quadrilateral forms in a large grid format that virtually dominates the space on the wall. It is the first work made visible upon entering the gallery. For this monumental work, the artist chose to eliminate color. The emphasis in on light and shadow as the defining elements in the work. Each quadrilateral has a complex linear frame within a frame. Within the space of each component. there are cut uniform apertures of different sizes that are dispersed, yet integrated throughout the installation.
As suggested earlier, it is difficult to put into language the affect and the impact of works, such as Music Drawing – Poem Sunlight given that it is totally dependent on each viewer’s experience. It reminds me of Marcel Duchamp’s Etant Donnes at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in which only a single viewer can observes the interior. Music Drawing holds a similar orientation. While more than one person can see it, each person’s experience will have its own meaning, which is the aesthetic conduit that gives her work the beauty that music and art bestow upon us.
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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