Introduction of the solo show 'A Song for the Unseen'

at Chapter II

April 2021

Chapter II is pleased to announce, A Song for the Unseen, a solo exhibition by Chae Eun Rhee (b.1979) from 8th April to 15th May in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul. This exhibition presents new achievement by Chae Eun Rhee, who has developed her authentic topical painting style embracing both imaginative and realistic realms by juxtaposing figures in situations related to specific social issues on a surface of bold primary colors, after her successful completion of the residency program at Rijksakademie in Netherland and her solo museum exhibition at EENWERK.

Chae Eun Rhee’s practice is initiated by applying figurative reflections to dynamics between members of contemporary society and social phenomena she has experienced and been affected by. The main approaches for the artists to absorb multiple motifs for creation within the scope of the contemporary era’s influence can be divided in two directions: one is revealing the sincere internal responses under the impact and another is taking a more objective observer’s point of view by selectively exposing and arraying certain events and images through a curatorial methodology. Chae Eun Rhee adopts the latter as she carefully measures off the given plane beforehand and deploys targets on it without damaging the profound effect of improvisation in the field of creation. ‘Reportage’ often refers to a literary genre combining the factual incident reports and the writer’s knowledge and insight into them and Rhee attempts to produce a similar effect in her paintings. When viewers manage to avoid being distracted by the dazzling composition of her paintings and have enough time to appreciate them closely, they would realize that some spotlights the artist intentionally implanted are fixed on several particular spots and hidden narratives lurk in these areas.

The All-over painting style, the non-differential treatment of the surface of two-dimensional works of art, is noticeable in her recent series. The scenes depicting people preoccupied with their actions and the appearance of uniforms evoke a certain sensation similar to emotion emerging when we encounter press photographs produced by the media and they lead us to deeply contemplate their implications. In consideration of the majority of the news photographs underlining controversial features of the events, the all-over composition reminds us that the subjects of Rhee’s paintings stem from current issues. At the same time, her practice, as a medium delivering information, has an asymmetric structure; because either some paintings whose symbols and images situate outside the ordinary are easily included in specific groups or there is a possibility of interpreting the paintings differently depending on the related knowledge. For example, in the case of <A Song for the Unseen II>(2020), Rhee refers to <The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind>(1568) by Pieter Bruegel; several scattered elements of the painting—the rainbow-pattern umbrella, the people planting a tree, the mobile clinic and the barricade and the number 73—convey a potential of understanding the work variously in association with symbolic meanings of still-life components of the medieval Vanitas.

On the contrary to the intense primary colors, the dark and overcast background of her paintings lessens the saturation of a figurative tendency and discloses the artist’s original intention. The feisty manifestation of the primary colors increases the degree of vitality and spontaneity over the entire surface. The liveliness contains precariousness as though the ephemeral themes Rhee has chosen seemed to be on the brink of being covered and overturned by a new issue after their instant ignition and diffusion. “Now and here” of the sprouting water from the fire hose, the rage of the flame, the flock of birds busily wandering and the diverse people indulging in their movements will terminate soon and the world will be swallowed by other occurrences and dogmas. Thus, this exhibition will provide an intriguing opportunity to reflect upon a clue for solving challenging questions addressed by the artist of the future which has not arrived yet.

Chae Eun Rhee completed an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her practice has been featured in solo exhibitions at SongEun Art Cube(2019), Seoul and recently at EENWERK(2020), Amsterdam. She was a selected artist at several local and abroad residency programs including SEMA Nanji Residency(2021), Rijksakademie(2020) and Vermont Studio Center(2015); also, she was a recipient of fellowships at Asia Culture Center(2019), Yaddo Residency Program(2016) and Milton Avery Foundation(2015). Rhee’s paintings are included in multiple prestigious establishments such as MMCA Artbank, Incheon Foundation for Arts and Culture, Museum De Fundatie and Centraal Museum Utrecht(Upcoming, 2021).