Art in America, 08/01/06
Ga Hae Park at Bronx River Art Center

By Jonathan Goodman

For her recent exhibition, the Korean-born artist Ga Hae Park showed what she calls “music drawings”, here represented by ten works in cut paper and ink, among them a nine-piece series titled “Poem (Music Drawings)” and a 36-piece suite based on the music of Robert Schumann (all 2005). Meticulously drawing or coloring on one sheet of paper, and cutting out of it geometric shapes, often small squares, then laying this first sheet over another that has been colored or drawn on in the panes opened in the top sheet, the artist established chart-like compositions that she considers to be the visual equivalent of music.

The exquisite Schumann series consists of precisely rendered works, 14 inches squared, that at first glance look like scientific tables. In the lower part of the drawings, a horizontal band of narrow, evenly-spaced vertical cutouts has been tinted to form patterns of ascending and descending lengths. Above this is another, narrower horizontal band, this time a row of cutout squares that are often, though not always, filled in. And above and below is a grid of squares of the same size as the cutouts, some drawn lightly on the top sheet, and others partially cut out so that a flap remains, sometimes partially raised to reveal the hue beneath. The variegated colors and flickering shadows cast by cut edges create an orderly flow.

Park’s notion of synesthetic charts is continued in the series titled “Poem (Music Drawings)”, each work 14 by 17 inches. Here, the top sheet is more radically cut out into a filigree grid, with the bottom-gathered drawn lines. Dominating the composition of each work, and differently positioned from one to the next, is a large square outlined in black that straddles the complex arrangement, and a half-circle that has been left solid within the filigree. It is as though Park were composing a fugue, in which the geometrical forms repeat from piece to piece with variations, in much the same way as a theme is developed in musical counterpoint. The cumulative effect is one of great delicacy and beauty.

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This program is made possible with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Althea Stevens, Kristy Marmorato and the Bronx Delegation. Additional support is from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the NYS Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature. Foundation support is from Con Edison: The Power of Giving, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, The Lincoln Fund, and private donors.

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