Monday, November 12, 2012

An artist who treats paintings as psychological landscapes

Thomas Erben gallery in New York hosts a solo show by the New York-based eminent painter Haeri Yoo, who has based her works on a tangle of dichotomies with conflicting forces that struggle to form a precarious state of balance constantly. Channeling opposing impulses like delight and darkness, wonder and violence, or narration and abstraction, she looks to establish an animated visuality that gets enhanced through intense colors, oscillating between jarringly sweet and equally polluted.

Another aspect central to her work is the dynamic between spontaneity and control. The influence of calligraphy attributed to her Korean background is evident in the usage of swift brushstrokes that allows the medium of painting itself to dictate the visual conditions for all pieces. This intuitive element gets tempered with her intent, balancing intrinsic energy flow with restraint.

Haeri Yoo received her BFA from Kyungbook National University, Korea (1992) and her MFA from the Pratt Institute of Arts, NY (1997). She has exhibited at numerous venues and events, such as Korean Art Show, NY (2012); Five Miles, NY (curator Lilly Wei, 2011); the Chelsea Art Museum, NY (2010); Monica de Cardenas Gallery, Milan, Kresge Art Museum, MI, and the Seoul Art Center (all 2009); House of Campari, NY (curator Simon Watson), Smith College Museum of Art, MA (both 2008); and Queens Museum of Art (2004).  Her work was recently included in ‘Korean Eye’, Saatchi Gallery, where it will also be part of ‘Painters’ Painters’.

The artist has described her paintings as psychological landscapes, depicting the darker areas of the human experience such as vulnerability, cruelty and sexual subjugation. Initially, this was represented through distinctly figurative, carnal imagery, whereas in her second show she moved further into abstraction, fracturing the space of each painting into complex structures and chopping up the body almost beyond recognition.

In the new series on view, entitled ‘Running Pit’, the calligraphic brushstroke is given a stronger influence, and abstract space is simplified, with a boldness that does not sacrifice complexity. Where Yoo previously mutated reality into something resembling a Rorschach test for the darker sides of human behavior, her current work opens up toward the reality of painting itself.

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