The Korea Herald


Group exhibition shows skulls, sovereigns

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 18, 2015 - 18:54

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Three expat artists are showing their work at “Glow,” a group exhibition in Seoul hosted by Art Network Korea.

Though exploring different themes and media, the artists each use vivid colors in the exhibition.

From left: From left: "Boxes" by Jennah Valk, "Sol y Flores" by Rosalie Knaack, and "Queen 2015" by Andy Brown.

These strong hues are mixed with dark, heavy shades in the acrylic paintings by Jennah Valk, who depicts cityscapes based on experiences in Asia. 

Using a heavily layered style, she contrasts shadows and silhouettes against bright colors in a conscious effort to recreate her surroundings in Korea.

“I was raised in a small city in Michigan that is what some in Korea might say is ‘the countryside,’” she said. “For that reason, the characteristics and scenes of the city are really profound, new, and in many ways beautiful to me.”

“I like the style of dark colors contrasted against bright fresh neon signs or a clear sky. It reflects the cities in Asia with the dark, old alleyways lined with popping neon signs,” she said, recalling a moment of inspiration after the rain in Seoul.

“I remember thinking ‘if only these buildings weren’t here! It would really be a beautiful view.’ I paused and then thought ‘well, that is life in the city, I guess.’

“That memory really stuck with me and that is when I decided to paint these rainy cities ― at times with a bright sky at dusk.”

Fresh from her masters’ graduation exhibition in Daejeon, Rosalie Knaack is showing 2-D and 3-D work involving flowers and skulls, stressing the ubiquity of both life and death.

The skulls are rendered in ceramic, which Knaack said reminded her of the texture of bone, and also allowed her to bring out her work’s bright colors, which representing the vibrancy of life.

The ceramicist is also showing “Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow,” a bunch of flowers with skulls in the center where seeds would be.

“Seeds are, of course, the place from which life begins, but they are also where life ends for a flower,” said Knaack. “When the flower dies, you harvest the seeds so that they can be planted anew the following year.”

Her 2-D work at the show comprises pop art screen prints of skeletons and flowers on ceramic panels.

“Personally, I see no reason to fear the skull or skeleton. Literally every person in the world has one inside them,” Knaack said. “This piece is an attempt to strip the skeleton of its meaning as a symbol of death and allow people the chance to see it in these pieces in terms of shape, color and composition.”

Andy Brown is exhibiting seven portraits of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, looking at her iconic image.

Brown’s work has featured the queen before, most notably using teabags. In his more recent work he removes details, paring the portrait down to the bare essentials.

“The fascinating thing for me is how these silhouettes, and the recognizable profile, can still conjure so many memories and feelings,” he said.

“When making these I was sometimes consciously, sometimes maybe unconsciously going through my own memories and associations with the Queen, the British Empire and the images we were brought up on as children in the U.K.”

He is showing one teabag portrait and six paper collages, the color schemes of which bear indications of time periods from her reign ― for example early television footage or the “God Save the Queen” Sex Pistols single cover.

Some of the collages have had paint added to add a frame, jewelry or other details.

“I find the mixture of the two materials together provides a nice looseness and variation within the images,” he said.

The exhibition runs at Jang Eun Sun Gallery in Insa-dong, Seoul, until Nov. 28.

By Paul Kerry (