PROVIDENCE, RI.- The David Winton Bell Gallery presents Cut Folded Dyed & Glued, on view through March 5, 2008. Imi Hwangbo and Jae Kos abstract works share an elegant simplicity and beauty. Both artists work with simple materials and employ labor-intensive methods. In this they exemplify a current movement of artists who are at ease with technology and instantaneity but seek the hand-crafted and laborious. In addition, both artists draw on their Korean heritage referencing the country's famed papercrafts and decorative arts.
Jae Ko works exclusively in paper. Experimenting with different kinds of paper (from rice paper to newspaper and register receipt paper), she has cut, buried, soaked, dyed, glued, and otherwise manipulated her material. The works presented at the Bell Gallery represent two distinct styles. The earlier works are billowy wall reliefs with subtly modulated surfaces, here in a dense black that seems to absorb all light. Working with adding-machine paper, Ko shaped and then soaked the paper in sumi ink. The swollen paper looks velvety and the powdered ink dries to a matte finish. Although Ko is inspired by nature, the evocative works draw broad allusionsto minimalist painting, Asian calligraphy, and even body parts.
Kos recent works, which she presents individually or in groups, are twisted forms suggestive of spirals, cyclones, s-curves, wheels, and infinite signs. The new works are more physically aggressive than the reliefs, and whereas the earlier surfaces were velvety, these are hard and shiny and could easily be mistaken for Fiberglas, plastic, or ceramic. Here again Ko uses adding-machine paper, which is either left natural and colored with red or black calligraphic ink and then sealed with glue that dries to a shiny finish. Two large black reliefs and a red floor piece will be presented at the Bell Gallery in an elegant minimalist installation.
Imi Hwangbo creates exquisite and delicate reliefs of floral and geometric patterns based on Korean decorative arts. Works in the Pojagi Series, which takes its name from Korean wrapping cloths, range in size from intimate (6 x 8) to monumental (10 high). Pojagi are made by women and often decorated with patchwork or embroidered geometric patterns and floral motifs.
Hwangbos reliefs are meticulously hand cut into numerous layers of translucent Mylar; the patterns are created by removing rather than adding material. Her method straddles media: combining drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, the reliefs are both three-dimensional drawing and sculptural objects. Each piece begins with a drawing done by hand in the studio, which is subsequently printed on a sheet of Mylar. The labor-intensive process combines the control and perfection of digitally printed mark-making with the expressiveness and variability of hand-drawn imagery. During the installation process, the pieces, which are composed of up to thirty layers, are aligned to create form, shape, and depth. The cumulative effect is a visual experience that combines two and three dimensional modes of perception.