Artist In Kyoung Chun’s show at Poem 88’s new space on the Westside straddles a line between conceptual riddle and fun-loving lark.
Like a brainy children’s book author, In Kyoung Chun delights in tricking the eye with ever more micro and macro examinations of space in her solo show. The exhibition is called “You Are Here,” a purposefully amusing title when you consider how many times the artist disorients our perspective and plays with point of view, always moving the road sign once you feel you’ve finally found your way.
Chun is a Korean-born and raised artist with an MFA from Georgia State University who is now a part-time instructor at the school. She illustrates the increasingly international character of Atlanta’s artists who hail from around the globe, bringing their unique cultural interests and perspective to their work.
Her paintings, watercolors and sculptures offer myriad vantages on the same scene, most often the interior of a house and its contents. As you work your way through the show, you alternate between feeling like a master of the universe, gazing down into the interior of a tabletop “Invisible House” built of Plexiglas, and feeling slightly disoriented, guided by the artist as she offers only a carefully culled and fragmented vantage. In many ways “You Are Here” is an expression of the vacillating relationship between artist and viewer, as we move between feelings of humility and mastery in contemplating artwork.
One of the main visual references in “You Are Here” is a house, an icon of comfort and stability. In several, “You Are Here” sculptures Chun has created Plexiglas, dollhouse-size houses that allow you to peek into her spaces and lord yourself over the diminutive contents.
But that feeling of mastery and a privileged view can quickly change. In “Table” she plunges us deep into the home’s interior, where you can get in close to the bowl of fruit sitting on a table, a reference to classical still life paintings. While breaking down physical space in her paintings, In Kyoung Chun also offers a meditation on many painterly tropes: color, line and perspective.
But for the artist, much of her interest resides in the round forms that reappear in her paintings—the bubbles and orbs that pop up like character actors in her visual dramas. For In Kyoung Chun, the work is intended as a meditation on energy expressed in the buoyant bubbles that crop up again and again in her work.
Or as she says in her “You Are Here” artist’s statement, “By utilizing the shape and images of circles in my paintings and sculptures, I strive to express the hidden power of every living and non-living thing.” You can see an expression of that desire to express energy and life through those shapes in a work like “Buy One Get One Free,” in watercolor and pencil on paper. In that work clusters of bright, multi-colored bubbles emerge—like the balloons headed skyward in “Up”—from the interior of a house. The artist has a sense of humor in these works too, adding a tiny red dot below one of the two houses (the way a gallery indicates that a painting has sold) in “Buy One Get One Free,” joking that the buyer of her drawing will get two houses for the price of one.
There is something dreamy and childlike in Chun’s images, a winsome expression of color and perspective that makes the work engaging, especially when paired with its clever, self-referential elements.
“You Are Here: In Kyoung Chun
Through July 2, 2015. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Poem 88, Westside Provisions District, 1170 Howell Mill Road, Level 1. 404.735.1000, www.poem88.net.
Bottom line: A clever, winsome show that also comments upon art making.