Baik Art Gallery


Nessie | 17 April – 31 May 2024 | Park Kyung Rul
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Four O’Clock, or Nessie[1]

Kwon Taehyun, Curator

Four O’Clock

4:35, 14:10, 16:05… Park Kyung Ryul’s recent paintings have time as their titles. These timecodes refer to the moment she declared each painting to be complete. Titling works this way could remind one of Zen koans — “When is a painting truly complete?” — but Park’s methodology is nothing close to such scenes in which the old and wise painter sets down his brush with satisfaction on his face.

People familiar with Park’s art will know how she lays out numerous objects in her exhibition spaces along with her paintings. This methodology could easily be misunderstood as a means of painting’s sculptural expansion, but in truth, her installations are not about bringing the forms inside the paintings outside. They are more about better understanding the composite of canvas and pigments through sculptural arrangement. Park endeavors to treat every element of painting equally from an ontological dimension. For instance, instead of seeing the brushstroke from the framework of painting traditions, she considers the brushstroke as a movement that places matter onto a particular coordinate of time and space. This methodology allows Park to view the act of painting as the action of placing matter onto specific places, and therefore, the objects she places outside of her canvases gain the same status as her brushstrokes. The idea of painting’s expansion implies an investigation of the medium itself, but observing Park’s art from the issue of material equality, one discovers aspects that function differently from preexisting viewpoints. Inside the sensual field unfolding from here, the visitor’s movements, light, gravity, and, most importantly, in the context of this exhibition, time, are received uniformly, just like any other painterly element such as canvas or pigment.

Specifically, some of the works presented here were created during Park’s residency in Southern US, and she reflects upon the influences the studio’s architectural features (it has a ceiling made of glass) and the crisp Californian sunlight had on her ways of recognizing matter with a sense of profound urgency. Park’s realization that daylight — something that changes hour by hour — could influence her painterly choices must have linked with the recognition that one’s act of painting is, in fact, connected to macroscopic networks such as climate and planetary motions. Microscopically, this is where the gap that allows one to place the act of painting onto the status of an event — the chain of environment, motion, and time — opens up. Viewing painting as      event: however, the problem here is that this event as the chain of materials continues even when the artist has finished the painting. Thus, the paused timecodes start ticking again in the exhibition due to its new context of time and space, and more than anything else, by meeting the visitors who each carry unique timescales. The exhibition becomes another event in which numerous events click together like gears.


A person who believes in monsters continues discovering creatures from the serene surface of an apparently empty lake, and even for those who do not believe in such, the mere fact of knowing some myths creates the same effect. And it’s not just lakes. We can never see things as they are. This is because humans always see things through a structure. The eye, as the organ, may optically receive the shape of physical objects, but the brain, the final processor, always translates the objects through systems already known to it. In other words, the images we see through our eyes and conceive in our heads are literally the products of our imaginations. 

Park strives not to leave any representational form on her canvases, but we continue to see figures from them. No matter how hard she tries to speak exclusively through matter and brushstrokes, we see her works through conventional painting-viewing attitudes. In fact, even if an abstract arrangement of matter were generated arbitrarily and without involving any intention whatsoever, we would still read it as some linguistically interpretable form or otherwise comprehendible shapes. No matter how much autonomy Park allows her hands in the attempt to escape structure, viewers find facial expressions, ghosts, rainbows, lemons, groups, torsos, chess pieces, or monsters on her canvases. Moreover, different people imagine different words even when they see the same form. In some cases, people go as far as to create narratives by linking the forms they discovered. Just as in her artist statement referring to Hollis Frampton, the narrative is not specific and instead exists like a ghost. However, as we discuss painting and physical matter, we may use something more tangible, such as a monster. 

Another problem: a painting is always more than a mere object made by coating the canvas with pigment. Painting is not just a format of materials but also an intellectual and discoursive format and a product of history and tradition. Due to this aspect, recognizing a painting involves numerous dimensions and the various levels of structure entangled with them. When confronted with painting in a gallery, the visitor tries one’s utmost to comprehend the forms on the canvas and, in turn, recognizes the work through all kinds of preexisting structural networks such as abstractionism, figurativism, modernism, and Supports; in short, the ghosts and monsters that continually haunt paintings are not limited to narrative and form. 

Forms, ghosts, or monsters repeatedly appear in the events of paintings; as similar forms emerge from the brushstrokes scattered across the exhibition, it becomes gradually more difficult to recall and picture one complete painting of hers in the mind. Some parts of the paintings in this exhibition remind one of the monsters Medieval monks drew onto the margins of their bibles that they so devotedly learned by heart. These images were the means of a mnemonics. In contrast, Park’s forms are not the parts of such a strategy that commit one painting into one vivid memory; instead, they scatter memory into multiple instances. For instance, what appeared in one painting would reappear in the next painting, or a form would jump out of one canvas to make the viewer look back at a previous painting. Images mix into each other through memory and imagination, and the paintings on display step over the allowance of autonomy and intrude on each other. 

And, regarding the mirrors and the forms and faces reflected in them: as you move through the exhibition, your face appear and disappear in the mirrors along with monsters, ghosts, or parts of objects. Painting as event does not appertain to the situations Park is working on the painting. The capacity that turns a painting into an event is not ingrained in the work itself. It is omnipresent in every being standing before the material artwork. Not just the painter, viewers, and the potential collector, but literally every being: the painting itself, the being that recognizes it, and the various materials composing the situation in which they exist together. Painting can become an event only within the alliance of other physical matter. Brushstroke and matter, figure and imagination, memory and narrative, ghost and monster, and the perceiver and the perceived constantly switch places and generate countless events. A fascinating future awaits.

[1] 네시 [ne-si], the Korean word for four o’clock, has the same pronunciation and spelling as the Loch Ness monster Nessie.

[Nessie] Portfolio : ENG