Seemingly ordinary, the intimate scenes in GaHee Park's paintings and drawings are laced with an erotic and, to an extent, even sinister undertones. Populated by potted plants and animals, mirrors and frames, as well as fragmented nude bodies, GaHee Park's artwork is an exploration of the experience of the body.Read More
As GaHee Park told Ocula Magazine in 2020, the proliferation of sexual acts and nudity in her work derive partially from her background. Growing up in a conservative Catholic family in Seoul, she was seldom allowed privacy or freedom to explore taboo subjects. Drawing became 'a way of rebelling and asserting myself': of challenging traditional values about not only sex but also sexist ideas restricting women's behaviour.
The often private and idyllic scenes in GaHee Park's paintings regularly incorporate acts of voyeurism. In House Dance (2018), a hand pulls back a curtain to reveal a couple having sex, while in Voyeur (2020), an eye and a finger peek through a hole in the wall to observe a vase of flowers and a pair of copulating snails. As the artist told Metal Magazine, she is drawn 'to the idea of private space in a psychological sense, and I find it interesting to think about different kinds of private spaces that can exist.'
Various animals also frequently play voyeurs in GaHee Park's work. In Every Day Was Yesterday (2017–2018), two dogs wearing protective collars watch the entangled bodies of a couple in the foreground. By contrast, the calico cat in Feast Night (2018) appears disinterested in humans, who kiss as the feline grooms itself on the table.
Also in her 2020 interview with Ocula Magazine, GaHee Park reflected on her experiences of discrimination when she first arrived in the United States for graduate studies at Tyler School of Art in the late 2000s as an influence on the presence of animals in her work. 'Maybe it's more about social taboos, about power dynamics and hierarchies—the values we give to certain people and life forms over others', she told Ocula.
Betrayal (Sweet Blood), Perrotin New York (2020); We Used to Be Fish, Perrotin Seoul (2019); Every Day Was Yesterday, Taymour Grahne, London (2018); Kissing in the Tree, Motel, New York (2017); Butt on Face, Pioneer Works, New York (2016); No No Means Yes Yes, Marginal Utility, Philadelphia (2015); Back to Nature, Marginal Utility, Philadelphia (2012).
50 Artists: Art on the Grid, Public Art Fund, New York (2020); Drinking Reflection, Russo Lee Gallery, Oregon (2019); Bathers, Bass & Reiner, San Francisco (2018); Lintel, Mantel, Module, Shelf, La MaMa Galleria, New York (2017); Sexuality, NAM Project, Milan (2016); Intimism, James Cohan, New York (2016).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
There is a coolness to the way Park paints her figures, as well as a sculptural attention paid to form and surfaces.
In author Ursula K. Le Guin's 1986 essay, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Le Guin cites writer and editor Elizabeth Fisher's "carrier bag theory," which posits that the earliest tool was in fact