Saturday, June 14, 2008

Toward Albuquerque

While I was in Chelsea (see last post) I popped into the new Chelsea Art Museum. I was practically the only person there - you have to pay to get in whereas all the other galleries are free... I was drawn by the rather ostentatiously titled exhibition Oh ChiGyun: Defining Landscape.

These days landscape painters often seem to need some means of justifying the pursuit of what may seem an exhausted art form. I've remarked here before, how a novel technique may be one way through this problem, and in Oh Chigyun's case the most distinctive element is his method of applying paint by hand. As the CAM site says: 'Some of the things that distinguish Oh ChiGyun's approach to painting are his strong yet sensitive palette, pictures that are highly textured from pigment being amply applied to their surfaces, and his use of other support material other than canvas including found and discarded doors and windows. But the most unique aspect of Oh ChiGyun's art is his technique in which he applies paint to his pictures directly with his hands rather than by brush. Oh ChiGyun's idiosyncratic métier creates an immediacy and intimacy between imagination, subject matter, and artistic execution.'

In addition to his methods, there is the artist's cross-cultural background, coming from South Korea and painting American landscapes. Does this give his paintings a unique flavour, or is this just background information in comparison to the artist's personal vision? A brief essay on the Oh Chigyuan (오치균) website certainly suggests that his art is a fusion of Asian and Western influences. I find his paintings of small details of the urban scene like doorways or rail tracks more impressive than his cityscapes. However, his light effects can be quite startling and simple views of the highway, like Toward Albuquerque (2004), stay in the memory.

No comments: