ONE AND J. Gallery opens an exhibition of works by MeeNa Park

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ONE AND J. Gallery opens an exhibition of works by MeeNa Park
Installation view of “House” at ONE AND J. Gallery, 2023

SEOUL.- Upon a simple instruction ‘Draw a house on a sheet of paper using 12 color pencils,’ an array of different houses appear. A house made of square walls and a triangular roof, a house with a chimney and yard, a high-rise apartment, a glittering gem house, and the list goes on for unlimited forms of houses we could ever imagine. When one tries to visualize a ‘house’, people are often influenced by socio-cultural fixed ideas about houses and desires of a dream house. MeeNa Park works on the very aspect of how such influences had formed personal views, experience, and taste in many complex levels, which are reflected again in this image of ‘house.’ As Park had been questioning social systems including rules that we abide by, she explores this question via components of painting: color & image. After collecting vast data of contemporary consumption of color, icon, and symbol, Park classifies the data under her own criteria and analyzes the properties of our society. Drawing visual results from such analysis, she captures them onto paintings which mostly feature vivid color palettes and clearly outlined icons. The smooth canvas invites our eyes to linger evenly throughout the surface. “House”, her second solo exhibition at ONE AND J. Gallery, presents diverse appearances of houses that have been designed under Park’s unique methodology. The viewer can contemplate on the social facet reflected on each work, especially with the paintings and drawings of the series ‘House’ that were created from 1999 until 2023.

For over two decades, MeeNa Park had created series such as ‘Scream’, ‘Color-Furniture’, ‘FPM’, and ‘BW(Black & White)’ which were all independent from each other. But for this solo exhibition “House,” she has given her first attempt in pairing them. Park links the ‘House’ series with other series by inviting ‘Sky’, ‘Set Colors’, ‘Dingbat’, ‘Drawing’ series as references. Through this process, Park has newly created an intersection called ‘house’ among her seemingly scattered series. Just as a house standing alone would gain more scope and meaning as village, city, and country, while mingling with the surroundings, the exhibition “House” regenerates networking among her own works as well as expands Park’s art world.

Dingbat x House

Park plays with the concept of relation between language and image through her dingbat painting. Dingbat font is an image font expressing letters into various symbols. Park considers this font as one of the perceptive frames imposed by social systems. Once you type code-like titles such as %j(2008), CaCaa(2008), and xxxFuvwmyz(2008) on your keyboard while using the dingbat font, you would get the corresponding dingbats on your screen. Park would concoct her own narrative with the dingbats that match her letters. Then she freely adjusts the size and arrangement of the dingbats, and adds colors to complete her paintings. Contrary to language with a fixed meaning, these dingbat paintings composed of images and colors are open to numerous narratives according to the viewer’s active imagination. In this exhibition, the dingbat paintings are connected through colors while creating new relations and stories with the House icon.

Sky x House

In Cloud 31 House(2023), the house is found under the series ‘Sky’ which are paintings of the sky seen everyday at the same hour, same place. Park had googled ‘house’ and adopted the first image found as the icon, and brought her 31 clouds in the color of the sky to float above it so that the house would be accompanied with the virtually month-long view of the sky.

Set Colors x House

Beehive House(2023) reminds us of the palette set of 84 colors; Park has painted inside hexagons the colors sold by the three major acrylic paint companies in 2023 in Korea. As she understands the diversity and scope of the palette to be closely linked to the specific era’s culture and taste, Park is keen to use the painting kits of certain years to create her series ‘Set Colors’ that express the contemporary into colors. Another feature in Beehive House: you may find a hidden house for people, not for bees.

Drawing x House

Park had constantly worked on her Drawing series since her undergrad days, which began from coloring books. They are for preschoolers, teaching them the basic social rules and systems such as figure, number, and alphabet. Compared with other series, Park’s subjective reactions actively intervene, as well as liberal variations thereof. Normally in a coloring book, you would find instructions like ‘Draw a line from left to right,’ but Park ventures to part from such predetermined instructions and follows her intuitions to color in a different way. She twists and turns the social code embedded in the instruction using color pencil, pen, paint, masking tape, sticker, stamp, etc. The painting Maze House(2002) is paired with the drawing Rabbit Hole(1999), and other drawings are also based on house forms. Park invites the viewer to try to understand the exact opposite of the instruction, break free from fixed ideas, to let oneself freely play with this theme.

The artist

Born in 1973 in Korea, MeeNa Park is now based and works in Seoul, Korea. She received her B.F.A in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design and M.F.A in Painting from Hunter College, City University of New York. Park has held solo exhibitions at ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul (2023); Atelier Hermès, Seoul (2023); Seoul Children’s Museum, Seoul (2023); Audio Visual Pavilion, Seoul (2020); Over the Influence, Hong Kong (2019); SeMA Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2016) and others. Participating in numerous group exhibitions, those were held at the Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2022, 2019); Nam June Paik Art Center, Gyeonggi (2021); MMCA Seoul, Seoul (2020); Doosan Gallery, New York (2019) and many more. Park was awarded the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s citation and the first Doosan Yonkang Art Award in 2010. Her works are in the permanent collections of MMCA, Korea; SeMA, Korea; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Korea; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Ilmin Museum of Art, Korea, and others.

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