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Cody Choi
"Cheesakhwa – Color Painting Colon 445"

2017

$50,000

About

Cody Choi (*1961 in Seoul, where he lives and works) has been an artist and cultural theorist since the 1980s and since he flew from Korea to arrive in Los Angeles as an immigrant. He studied at CalArts with Mike Kelley and he was good friends with John Baldessari. As an artist in the US he has been exploring the cultural identity and relationships of authority in contemporary society. His paintings, sculptures, and installation works have focused on the clashes between the diverse cultures of our contemporary age, as well as hybrid cultures, and the endless newly-created social phenomena as a result. Having started his career in the United States, Choi experienced chaos and frustration in the conflicting ideas of the rational and emotional, visual and conceptual art, commercial galleries and art works, and the American and Korean culture. Based on his frustration, Choi‘s work has focused on the subject of finding the alien Asian identity in the American society. While such confusion and anxiety was a burden of suffering for the artist, he began to recognize them as beautiful experiences, which allowed him to discover broader and deeper meanings and to nurture his thoughts. Choi represented Korea at the Venice Biennial 2017. His retrospective „Cody Choi. Culture Cuts“ – first shown at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (s) and the Musée d‘Art Moderne de Marseille (s) – was traveling major art museums and institutions throughout Europe, such as the University of Malaga, Spain and Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany, in Summer 2017. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions such as „The Thinker“ at Deitch Projects in New York (s), „L‘ART AU CORPS: le corps exposé de Man Ray à nos jours“ at Musée d’Art Contemporain in Marseille (g), Busan Biennale (G), „A tribute to Mike Kelley“ at MOCA Los Angeles (g), Gwangju Biennale (g), Arko Art Center in Seoul (s), or Today Art Museum, Beijing (s). With the work „Cheesakhwa – Color Painting Colon 445“ he is offering us a plethora of different painting modes in one painting: the work shows us painted letters that denominate colors. These colors are all wrong in the sense of: the color the words signify is not the color in which they have been painted. Thus, a contradiction between what we read (and understand) and the written words that we see, is created. With these colored words and letters, Choi is reffering to Joseph Kosuth and his neon-pieces. However, in contrast to Kosuth’s practice, where the neon sentences described precisely what could be seen (for instance in the work “Four Colors Four Words”, which consisted of four neon words in four different colors), Choi is counteracting against this “logic”. In addition to the painted letters, we see streaks and patches of color that let us think of Jackson Pollock or rather recent abstract works (one can think of painters like Oscar Murillo, David Ostrowski, Lucien Smith – that are known as heroes of “Crapstraction” or “Zombie Formalism”). This is another side to Cody Choi’s painting’s coin. Finally, all this is located on the very surface of the painting, being an absolutely flat object – and thereby referring to Clement Greenberg’s dictum of the flatness. However, behind these letters and color splashes Choi depicted a space that can be compared to Gerhard Richter’s photorealist depictions of three-dimensional spaces. So, we see, that Choi chooses to include several painterly possibilities in one work. The only thing he is not doing, is following the cliché of Korean paintings, that are known as mainly monochromatic colored objects. Besides being a conceptual reflection and analysis of what contemporary painting can be in the West and in the East, how these different ethnicities and cultures lead to different painterly approaches, he ends up with a beautiful, well balanced composition.

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