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Oh Chi-Gyun: Defining Landscape at Chelsea Art Museum
Oh Chi-Gyung. Empire State, 1994. Acylic on canvas. 132x199cm.

NEW YORK.- “To Western observers, Oh poses a different challenge, asking implicitly why—if we consider the innovations of the Impressionists a formal breakthrough of lasting significance—we are so reluctant to see those techniques applied methodically by a serious painter today.” – Richard Vine, from Second Sight: Oh Chi Gyun’s Mental Optics.

The Chelsea Art Museum, Home of the Miotte Foundation, is pleased to present a survey exhibition of the work of Korean artist Oh Chi-Gyun. Oh’s work represents a uniquely rare treat for New York City museum visitors, and in particular for those who make Chelsea their regular art destination. Oh’s work stands distinctly apart from the phenomenon of contemporary art desperately shouting for attention.

To the contrary, Oh Chi-Gyun offers viewers moments of quiet contemplation and a respite from the hoopla of the art world in general, replacing it with quiet reflection. Once in the presence of Oh’s paintings, the viewer inhabits cities, countryside landscapes, houses, roads, imagined and real; those apparently familiar aspects that conform and shape the world in which we live. In Oh’s world of images and image-making, viewers sense afresh how seasons change and influence our surroundings and our moods; from winter with its blue white icy snow, to the humid wet of spring’s soft rain, to a sunny summery feeling where branches, leaves, grass and flowers are budding, to the inviting warmth of nocturnal scenes with lit-up inviting indoor spaces.

“At first sight, Oh’s paintings come off as a kind of last man standing. For his works recall not only the variegated surfaces of Anselm Kiefer and a métier reminiscent of the immediate past, but this anachronism is a ruse that conceals complex undertakings that make the fruits of his artistic strategies as current as ever. Working in numerous genres though his mainstay is landscape, Oh’s depiction of the world is both direct as it is elusive. His subject matter includes the city, the country, flora and fauna as well as sunsets; yet, he filters his imagery through a distinct, seemingly transparent style that nonetheless remains fresh and new. Oh’s painterly modus operandi is a kind of telescoping of art history into the present. In the same way that Lisa Yuskavage cites Mel Ramos in her nudes and John Currin absorbs sixteenth-century Mannerist tendencies, for example, Oh reworks late nineteenth-century French academic painting through a deft formalism where mimesis and metonymy play dialogical roles. One the one hand, Oh’s painting is permeated with the tactility of a text-book Impressionist with a postmodern twist, but he teases us with these formal decoys for his pictures are corporeal and infused with dense surfaces that seem to sheath what lay within their pictorial space.” – Raúl Zamudio, from Oh Chi-Gyun: Life Defining Art Defining Landscape. The Chelsea Art Museum.

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