Apr 15th 2016

Opening: Erika Knerr and Min Ju Kim

@ Prak-Sis Contemporary Art Association

16 W. Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60654

Opening Friday, April 15th, from 5 PM - 8PM

On view through Wednesday, May 3rd

Prak-Sis Contemporary Art Association is proud to welcome Erika and Knerr and Min Ju Kim in their two person show beginning Friday, April 15. While the two artists come from different backgrounds, their art complements each other not only in similarity of an abstract minimalist aesthetic, but also in the healing and meditative quality inherently found in the power of nature.

Knerr’s Sun Portraits are meant to show the vibrant and changeable quality of the sun as a living being. Her use of yellow powdered pigment combined with various liquids produces bright and lively representations of the sun. While compositionally they are quite similar to each other, consisting of abstract yellow stains in a circular arrangement, each has its own unique character and feeling attached to it, not unlike our own change of disposition from day to day. One of the most immediate examples of the sun’s changeable nature is Icarus, after the ancient Greek myth.

According to the story, Icarus and his father Daedalus were imprisoned by King Minos of Crete for helping Theseus to kill the Minotaur and escape the labyrinth, of which Daedalus was the architect. In order to escape the prison, Daedalus constructed a pair of wings made from wax and feathers. Daedalus advised his son not to fly too high, but, overcome with exhilaration, Icarus flew higher and higher until the sun melted the wax and Icarus fell to his death into the sea. The story is an allegory about the danger of hubris.

The Icarus myth has a long precedent of appearing in the art historical canon, from Pieter Bruegel and Rubens to Matisse. However, in Knerr’s interpretation, it is the sun that becomes the protagonist, leaving Icarus to the wayside, the two feathers leaving the only hint of his involvement. In line with Knerr’s assertion that the sun is a living entity, the story of Icarus shows that the sun has destructive as well as healing qualities when the arrogance of humanity does not respect its power.

The artwork of Min Ju Kim has not only a similar aesthetic, but also similar emphasis on the importance of the natural and the organic. Recently, Kim has focused on paintings of dots and lines, the simplest forms of painting, but also the most powerful. Kim’s soft, muted stains of simple repetitive shapes have a meditative quality that also carry across a unique and distinctive feeling. In this way, both the making and viewing of each painting is an intimate experience for Kim herself and each individual that gazes upon it.

Whereas Knerr’s art focuses on the very massive body of the sun, Kim’s art takes on the opposite end of the spectrum and incorporates the miniscule bodies of cells. After experiencing a medical issue with her stomach, Kim became interested in health, which is reflected in her art. The dots and lines of her paintings are reminiscent of cell structures, which directly affect our wellbeing; the cells in our body can both heal and destroy us. As was seen with Icarus, Kim’s experience translated into artistic terms shows that if the natural world is respected it is only to our benefit, but if not, there are consequences.

In a way, the show at Prak-Sis is a bringing together of cosmological opposites: the very big and the very small, the curative and the destructive. Taken all together, the combination of Knerr’s and Kim’s paintings addresses one of the greatest mysteries of the universe that physicists have been struggling to solve for decades: the unification of all the forces of the universe into a single paradigm. Knerr and Kim that such quandaries are not only scientific sentiments, but artistic ones too.

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