5 OCT, 2001
Using traditional Korean materials of handmade paper, calligraphic brush and black ink, Yooah Park creates paintings which range from purely abstract works of energized brush strokes to dynamic figural studies which capture the movements of a dancer in her studio. Park updates her native scholar-painting tradition with a gestural abstraction and treatment of the human form which resonates with the American postwar school.Another body of work unites the drawing process with papermaking itself. Paper pulp is laid over and below layers of brush strokes, muting the bold marks to create veiled, etherial surfaces. The paving stones in the ancient courtyard of Seoul’s royal ancestral shrine are the inspiration for her soot black ceramic forms. These handworked sculptures with their subtle surfaces assert a massiveness far greater than their volumes, and the objects serve as powerful counterweights to the delicateness of Park’s paper works even as they recall the spareness of Minimalist sculpture.Critic Eleanor Heartney writes: “Park’s work inhabits a territory which is in-between those great dichotomies that pedants are so fond of using to classify essentially unclassifiable art works. Her lyrical paintings and sculptures insist that we move beyond questions of East and West, to confront art as an experience which moves us in and of itself."Yooah Park was born in Korea in 1961 and studied traditional brush painting at Ewha University, in Seoul. She later studied art history at Harvard and drawing at Columbia, and is currently based in New Jersey, making frequent return trips to Korea. Her diverse body of work reflects her life, balanced as it is between East and West. The work of Yooah Park draws deeply from her Korean heritage, yet her paintings, collage works and sculptures possess qualities that characterize Western art practices. This one-woman show is the artist's first exhibition in Chicago.