The Still Center of Life

A Group Exhibition of the works by

Richard Baker, Carl D’Alvia, Sanghyuk Kim, Trevor King, Lee Eunu, Alex Lemke, Nathaniel Robinson, and Haewon Sohn

Jul 15 - Sep 15, 2023
Wed - Sat, 11am - 6pm

In still life, there is always stillness.

Still life also comes from life, which could mean two different things. In art, still life traditionally means works depicting objects that remain still(which means they are not living things) painted from life. “From life” means it is painted directly from observation, not from a photo or imagination. Also, still life deals with the objects from everyday life or a person’s life. Something mundane and intimate. They are bowls, fruits, flowers, books, or wine bottles. Taking these everyday things, putting them on a surface, and stepping back to look at them creates a moment of stillness. For a fraction of a second, time comes to a stop, which engenders a stare or contemplation. This sequence is one of the fundamental conditions of still life.

Still life has always been a minor art. In the history of art, from the 16th century and on, history(religious, mythological) paintings with narratives and allegories were placed at the top of the hierarchy; portraits and landscapes were next in line. Still life innately has hardly any narratives. In ancient Egypt, when still life was first painted, a painting of food actually meant food that the dead could nourish. There is an almost primitive directness in still life from the beginning. As a genre, it didn’t get to develop an independent allegorical presence until the 17th-century Netherlands painters found a theme for still life, vanitas. Once it obtained a legitimate metaphorical power and popularity, it often became big in size and ostentatious in style. However, it reclaimed its humble and intimate presence in the 19th-century French art scene. Since still life lacked the narrative and had simple nature, it fit what Modernism required: removing literary aspects in painting. Through Cubism, it acquired its peculiar status in Modern art.

Although the subject matters in still life are often ordinary objects from everyday life, still life requires or is subject to an “artful” arrangement. This is where the conceptual possibility of the genre sneaks in. Compared to other forms of art making, it is a genre where artists can manipulate their subject matter based on their mental picture and conceptual agendas. Since it involves an arrangement, it could have collage-like quality. Also, since the subject matters are always around and it can be made in a small format, a still-life painting can be made and remade, which enables artists to find new forms. Apart from the allegory of the transience of life that still life has consistently been associated with, it is a genre of regeneration and innovation.

Guy Davenport said in his book, Objects on a Table, that “Age after age, still life has run its course from innovation to triteness, dissipating itself in familiarity. Inevitably, it has regenerated itself, usually as the stylistic forerunner of a new direction in the arts or as the epitome of style.” Still life as a genre could mean what its subject matters are destined to allude to; everything inevitably ends. But then again, this simple fact reminds us that there will be a life after that. In still life, we are to stare in stillness at the space between life and death, this life and life after that.

The exhibition features paintings by Richard Baker, Sanghyuk Kim, Alex Lemke, and Nathaniel Robinson, as well as sculptures/objects by Carl D’Alvia, Trevor King, Lee Eunu, and Haewon Sohn.

Richard Baker is a dedicated painter of still life and "book portraits." He arranges everyday objects—books he reads, flowers, often tulips, knives, or at times skulls—-and paints them in an ambiguous space. His space can be read as classical yet conceptual, which evokes a new dialogue about still life. His "book portrait" is the object of desire of all book lovers; it fills your eyes with a peculiar kind of pleasure, a sense of possessiveness. Kim Sanghyuk's painting is an afterimage of his present-tense experiences. For Kim Sanghyuk, who finds his subjects in his everyday life, still life is a jewel-like image of the things he sees. His cold blue color, like a piece of evidence, shines brightly in the present moment. Alex Lemke's painting feels like a cartoony still life mixed with Arthur Dove's tightly packed landscape. Ever-recurring soda cups with the view of the hills in LA in psychedelic colors form new landscapes in still life. Nathaniel Robinson, who usually paints large-scale landscapes or upstate NY town-scapes, chose a very small-sized surface for his still-life paintings. His small paintings focusing on one cup, one plate, and one bowl feel like a single, thoughtful vocabulary he chooses in his writing. He says the material is "recalcitrant" or difficult to handle, but his brush strokes are natural and simple, like an orange for breakfast.

Carl D'Alvia is a sculptor with classic elegance and modern wit. Birds often appear as his subject matter; birds have been a staple in still life paintings. His birds are much more alive than, say, Chardin's but surely provide a still moment of aesthetic appreciation that freezes time on our tables. Trevor King's objects have the magical power to break down the boundaries of worlds. He is producing a series of ceramic works based on the clumsy or enigmatic doodles made by his grandfather to help his grandson. They are dialogues that cross the worlds, humble-looking pieces that have the power to enervate critical eyes. Lee Eunu's works tread on boundaries. In this exhibition, her work is located in an undetermined space where still life becomes the scene of an interior. Her work, which explores a realm where an object(or a sculpture) connects with the body and the unknowable space this space might connect to, is infinitely attractive. Haewon's sculpture is a contemplative act running between two poles. Although she studied and produced ceramic works for a long time, she rarely made actual bowls and bottles as her work. Although these works also take the form of a bottle and bowl, they are more like meditative triggers that make us stare at a space between craft and sculpture.


정물의 한가운데 정적이 있다.

정물의 영단어 Still life의 “Life” 는 실제로 두 가지 의미를 지닐 수 있다. 예술에서 정물화는 전통적으로 정지된(살아있는 것이 아님을 의미) 물체를 “실사from life”로 그린 것을 의미한다. "실사From life"는 사진이나 상상이 아닌 실물을 관찰해서 그린다는 의미다. 또한 정물은 일상 생활life이나 개인의 삶에서 온 물건을 다룬다. 일상적이고 친밀한 것들. 그릇, 과일, 꽃, 책, 와인 병 등이 그것이다. 이러한 일상적인 것들을 골라 어떤 표면 위에 올려놓고 뒤로 물러서서 바라보는 순간, 정적이 생긴다. 아주 짧은 순간이지만 시간이 멈추는 듯하고 이는 응시나 명상적 상태를 낳는다. 이러한 시퀀스가 정물화의 기본 전제 중 하나라 할 수 있다.

정물은 항상 하위 예술이었다. 미술사에서 16세기 이후 서사와 알레고리가 있는 역사화(종교화, 신화 주제의 그림도 이에 해당)가 최상위였고 초상화와 풍경이 그 다음을 이었다. 정물은 본질적으로 서사가 없다. 고대 이집트에서 처음 정물화가 그려졌을 때, 음식을 그린 그림은 실제로 죽은 자가 영양을 얻을 수 있는 음식을 의미했다. 정물은 애초부터 그렇게 원시적인 직접성을 지녔다. 장르로서 17세기 네덜란드 화가들이 “바니타스(‘헛되다'라는 의미의 라틴어로 ‘모든 것은 유한하다’는 의미를 갖는다)”를 정물의 고유한 테마로 채택하고 나서야 독립적으로 은유적 존재감을 갖는 장르가 되었다. 정물화가 정당한 은유적 힘과 인기를 얻으면서 종종 크기가 커지고 스타일이 화려해지기도 했다. 그러나 정물화는 19세기 프랑스에 와서 다시 소박하고 친밀한 존재감을 되찾게 된다. 정물화는 태생적으로 서사가 부족하고 단순한 성격을 지니기에 회화에서 문학적 측면을 제거하는 모더니즘의 요구에 걸맞는 장르가 될 수 있었고, 큐비즘을 통해 그 현대적 위상을 갖게 된다.

정물화는 일상 생활에서 흔히 볼 수 있는 평범한 물건들을 소재로 하지만, 이들을 인위적이고 의도적으로 배치하게 되는 과정을 겪는다. 여기에 장르의 개념적 가능성이 스며든다. 다른 형태의 예술과 비교해서 예술가가 품은 이미지와 개념적인 의도에 맞는 편집과 구성이 가능한 장르이다. “배열”이라는 과정이 들어가기 때문에 콜라주와 같은 속성 또한 가지게 된다. 또한 소재는 항상 주변에 있고 작은 포맷으로 만들 수 있기 때문에 작가들은 정물화를 그리고 다시 그리며 새로운 형태의 모색이 가능하다. 정물은 그동안 일관적으로 연관하던 삶의 덧없음이라는 은유와도 걸맞게, 재생과 혁신의 장르라고 할 수 있다.

가이 대븐포트는 그의 저서 <스틸라이프Objects on a Table>에서 “시대를 거듭하며 정물화의 운명은 혁신에서 진부함으로 흘러가고 있으며, 낯익음 속으로 사라지고 있다. 하지만 정물화는 필연적으로 예술의 새로운 방향의 제시하는 스타일의 선구자로 또는 스타일의 전형으로 스스로를 재생해 왔다.”고 했다. 장르로서의 정물은 필연적으로 그 소재가 암시하는 것—모든 것이 유한하다—을 뜻한다. 그러나 이 자명한 사실은 또한 우리에게 그 이후의 삶이 있음을 상기시켜 준다. 정물화 속에서 우리는 삶과 죽음, 또는 이 삶과 이후의 삶 사이의 공간을 정적 속에 응시하게 된다.

이번 전시에는 리차드 베이커, 김상혁, 알렉스 렘케, 나다니엘 로빈슨의 그림들과 칼 달비아, 트레버 킹, 이은우, 손해원의 조각/오브제 작품들이 전시된다.

리차드 베이커는 정물과 “책 초상화”의 작가이다. 그는 자신이 읽는 책과 꽃, 일상의 사소한 물건들이 포함된 정물을 모호한 공간 속에 배치하고 그린다. 그의 공간은 고전적이면서도 개념적인 독특한 공간으로 정물에 관한 새로운 대화를 불러일으킨다. 그의 “책 초상화”는 모든 책 애호가들의 욕망의 대상으로 특별한 종류의 소유욕을 닮은 달콤한 만족감을 제공한다. 김상혁의 그림은 현재 시제로서의 경험의 잔상과 같은 느낌을 준다. 언제나 일상적인 곳에서 소재를 찾는 김상혁에게 정물은 그가 시선을 주는 물건들의 증거물이다. 증거처럼 냉정한 그의 푸른색은 현재 속에서 형형하게 빛난다. 알렉스 렘케의 그림은 아서 더브의 밀도 높은 풍경화 속에 만화 같은 정물이 합쳐진 느낌이다. 끝도 없이 나타날 듯한 소다를 담은 종이컵과 LA의 언덕이 사이키델릭한 색들 속에서 새로운 정물의 풍경을 이룬다. 보통 큰 풍경화 또는 업스테이트 뉴욕의 마을 모습을 그리는 나다니엘 로빈슨은 정물화의 포맷으로 매우 작은 사이즈를 택했다. 컵 하나, 접시 하나, 사발 하나에 집중시키는 그의 작은 그림들은 그가 그의 글 속에서 택하는 하나의 단어처럼 느껴진다. 그는 재료가 “고집스럽다”며 다루기 힘들다고 하지만 그의 붓질은 아침 식사 속 오렌지처럼 자연스럽고 심플하다.

칼 달비아는 클래식한 우아함과 현대적인 위트를 갖춘 조각가이다. 그의 소재로 새가 자주 등장해 왔는데, 새는 정물의 단골 소재이다. 그의 새는 샤르댕의 새들보다 훨씬 살아있지만 우리의 탁자 위에서 시간을 멈추게 하는, 미적인 순간을 제공한다. 트레버 킹의 오브제들은 세계의 경계를 허무는 마법적인 힘을 가진다. 그의 할아버지가 손자에게 도움을 주기 위해 그린 서투른 낙서 같은 드로잉을 바탕으로 그는 이 도예 작품들을 연작으로 제작하고 있다. 세계를 넘나드는 대화이고 비평의 시선을 무색하게 하는 힘을 가진, 소박하지만 파워풀한 작품들이다. 이은우의 작품들은 경계를 탐색한다. 이번 전시에서도 정물에서 실내로 가는 미확정의 공간 속에서 그녀의 작품이 위치한다. 오브제가 신체와 연결되는 지점, 이 공간이 그너머로 연결되는 부정의 공간을 탐색하는 그녀의 작품은 무한히 매력적이다. 손해원의 조각은 본질적으로 두 양극 사이에서 일어나는 사색적인 행위이다. 그녀는 오랫동안 도예를 공부했지만 실제 그릇과 병을 작품으로 만든 적이 거의 없다. 이번 작품들도 병과 사발의 형태를 띠긴 하지만 공예와 조각 사이의 어떤 공간을 응시하게 하는, 명상적 촉발제에 가깝다.


Richard Baker

Richard Baker(b.1959) has been exhibited widely throughout the US, including numerous solo exhibitions at Joan T. Washburn Gallery in New York and Albert Merola Gallery in Provincetown, MA. He is currently represented by Tibor de Nagy Gallery in NY and has had solo shows at Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans and has shown in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cologne, among other cities. Awards include those from the New England Foundation for the Arts, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. He has been a visiting artist at The University of Iowa, Boston University, The Rhode Island School of Design, The School of Visual Art in New York, and the Vermont Studio Center, and others. He has long-standing involvements with The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro, MA where he conducts workshops. Baker taught for eleven years at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. After 25 years in NY, he now resides in Cambridge, MA.



Carl D’Alvia

Carl D’Alvia(b.1965) received a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987 and splits his time between Connecticut and New York City. He has had recent solo shows at Hesse Flatow in New York and Galerie Hussenot in Paris. He has had solo shows at Nathalie Karg, Regina Rex, Derek Eller, Mulherin + Pollard Gallery in New York, Galerie Papillon in Paris. His work has appeared in group exhibitions at numerous galleries, including The American Academy of Arts and Letters,  Mother Gallery, Helena Anrather, Anton Kern Gallery, White Columns, among many others. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Flash Art, The New York Times, Hyperallergic, The Boston Globe, Time Out and the Village Voice. He also taught sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and served as a guest lecturer and critic at the Rome Programs of the Rhode Island School of Design, Cornell, and Temple University. He was awarded the Rome Prize for Visual Arts for 2012-2013 from the American Academy in Rome.



Sanghyuk Kim

Sanghyuk Kim (b.1998) was born in Suwon, South Korea, and currently living and working in Seoul, South Korea. Kim earned his BFA in 2021 and is expected to earn his MFA this year in the painting department at the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University. Kim participated in a two-person exhibition <Anemoia> at ArtGG Gallery in 2022, and a group exhibition <Throw Me a Bone> at Woosuk Gallery in 2023.



Trevor King

Trevor King (b.1988) lives and works in New York City. He has exhibited work at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Bronx Museum of the Arts (Bronx, NY), Sculpture Space NYC (Queens, NY), Art Lot (Brooklyn, NY), Emmanuel Barbault Gallery (New York, NY), and Spencer Brownstone Gallery (New York, NY). King has been a Fellow at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (Bronx, NY) and an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA (North Adams, Massachusetts), Touchstone Center for Crafts (Farmington, PA), Ox-Bow School of Art (Saugatuck, MI), Haystack Mountain School (Deer Isle, ME), Sculpture Space NYC (Queens, NY), Greenwich House Pottery (New York, NY), and The Hambidge Center (Rabun Gap, GA). He received a BFA from Slippery Rock University in 2011 and, during that time, also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland. King received an MFA from the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in 2015.



Lee Eunu

Lee Eunu (b.1982) was born in Gunpo and lives and works in Seoul. Her solo exhibitions include <Perpendicular Mind> (Prompt Project), <Pairs> (Songeun Art Space), <Tall, Flat, Hung> (Artsonje Center Project Space), and <The Manner of Objects> (Gallery Factory). She has participated in more than 50 group exhibitions including <Angel at My Table> (Factory 2), <An Exhibition with Little Information> (Museum of Contemporary Art Busan), Object Universe (Ulsan Art Museum). Her works are in collections, including the Seoul Museum of Art, Songeun Cultural Foundation, and Gyeonggi-do Museum of Modern Art. In 2023, she won the grand prize in the visual art, Seoul Arts Awards.



Alex Lemke

Alex Lemke (b. 1984) lives and works in Los Angeles. He holds a BFA from Art Center College of Design and an MFA from California State University, Los Angeles. His work has been shown at Young Art, The Luckman, Gattopardo, and 356 Mission in Los Angeles.



Nathaniel Robinson

Robinson was born in 1980 and grew up in the eastern part of Cranston, Rhode Island.  He graduated from Amherst College in 2002, where he studied painting and a modicum of philosophy.  In 2005 received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was a Jacob Javits fellow.  In 2015 he was the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors grant. He currently lives and works in Brewster, NY, where from 2022-23 he built a studio from the ground up with support from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.  He has been represented by Devening Projects in Chicago since 2010 and by Thomas Park in Seoul since 2022.  From 2010 to 2014 he was represented by Feature Inc., and from 2015 to 2021 by Magenta Plains in New York.  His work has been written about in Artforum, Art In America, Modern Painters, the New York Times, New York Magazine, Hyperallergic, Art Ltd. Magazine, New City, and other publications.



Haewon Sohn

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Haewon Sohn (b. 1992) spent her childhood growing up in Davis, California. In 2000, Sohn and her family moved back to her home country, where she lived until returning to the United States to pursue her graduate studies. She earned her BFA in Ceramic Crafts from the College of Design at Kookmin University and her MFA from the Department of Ceramics at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Sohn’s work has been shown in venues including Thomas Park (Seoul, South Korea), Subtitled NYC (Brooklyn, New York), Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD), Emmanuel Barbault Gallery (New York, NY), Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland (College Park, MD), Korean Cultural Center (Washington, DC), MONO Practice (Baltimore, MD), Gray Contemporary (Houston, TX), NARS Foundation (Brooklyn, NY) and more. Her work was reviewed and featured in publications such as The Washington Post, Bmore Art, Galerie Magazine, and Maake Magazine. She is currently a Faculty at Greenwich House Pottery (New York, NY). Concurrently, she dedicates her experience and knowledge as a professional artist by serving as part of the Board of Directors at Baltimore Clayworks.