Art Projects International (API) begins 1995 with an exhibition of new paintings by two New York artists — Yeong Gill Kim and David Brody — which will be open from January 5 to February 8, 1995 at the API Gallery in SoHo. Both painters work in monochrome and both give attention to the process of painting and to the aesthetics of the materiality of their works’ surfaces. Though both Kim and Brody depict figurative landscapes and reference their work in the tradition of Asian ink painting, they do so each in their own unique way. Kim’s landscapes are open and amorphous and feature human figures. Brody’s landscapes are unpopulated and present architectonic and anthropomorphic forms. The artists choose not to give primacy to either the painting process or the depicted imagery — at times the imagery dominates the paintings while at other times the imagery is so effaced or overpowered by the physicality of the paint and marks that it seems superfluous.
This exhibition allows the viewer to investigate Kim’s and Brody’s technical versatility and explore each artist’s unique vision. Kim’s work has affinities with traditional Korean ink painting, but despite certain similarities — the scale of imagery, the use of multiple perspectives, and some characteristics of the media — the work is thoroughly contemporary. In each of Brody’s “regions” of the world contained in his series A Thousand Peaks and Myriad Ravines he presents painterly painting and fantastic environments that bring to mind Calvino’s descriptions of city-scapes in his book Invisible Cities. In both artists’ work the viewer is privy to a vision which can be studied and digested but not contained in singular definition. At one moment the works’ subject seems to be a narrative, at another, the painting process itself, and at yet another moment, the outcome of painting’s historical progress. Ultimately, the viewer is left having to approach the works from many different paths simultaneously.
The particular selection of works on view at the API Gallery reveals not only the distinctly different visions of Kim and Brody, but also their parallel, though dissimilar, interests in traditional Asian ink painting. Kim was born in Korea and studied there as well as in the West, and his references to Korean ink painting are a way for him to acknowledge his cultural heritage while at the same time pursuing his own current interests. These interests include, for example, finding new solutions to the problem of creating viable painting in an age when the boundaries between cultures and nations, and between artistic styles and media, are dissolving. On the other hand, Brody, born in New York City, looks to the 17th century Chinese ink paintings of Kung Hsien as an example of a way to battle the “contending ghosts” of figuration and abstraction and to examine Western concerns, such as “the brutal, the earthy, the ugly,” in light of a non-Western model.
© Art Projects International