The Nancy Margolis Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Hyemi Cho’s exhibition “High Line and Personal Stories,” January 26 through February 25, 2012. Hyemi Cho paints dramatic stories, personal and real, and this exhibition will show two separate narratives and bodies of work, one experienced during childhood, painted from 2009-2012, the other an on going saga impacting her daily life by the opening of the High Line.
The High Line, the beautiful elevated park meandering through Chelsea is attracting crowds of strollers clearly enjoying this unusual city oasis. There is a side story quietly unfolding because of this park involving the artist Hyemi Cho whose apartment faces the High Line between 27th and 28th streets. Here is her story.
My apartment’s windows look directly onto and are at the same level as the High Line. When I learned that the High Line would be open to the public I thought, “Oh no! I will have no privacy and millions of people from all over the world will be staring into my life, invading my privacy. I will have to keep my curtain closed all the time or be like an animal in a zoo!”
Then I imagined myself cautiously peeking through my curtain looking outside, seeking the sky and river I used to love to see. I thought, “I am a painter. Why don’t I paint the reality of life and put it out to the public.” In this way, I would (re)solve the restriction of my freedom and my frustration of this invasion of my privacy.
The window paintings have brought me, now an animal in a zoo, delightful interactions with people on the High Line. Everyday, I see people laughing at the paintings and photographing them. Sometimes, I actually peek out and wave my hand, the real life recreation of the painting. The surprise on their faces turns to excitement and they wave back, saying “hi” with their hands. I see that my paintings are a good surprise and make people smile and laugh.
Born to Korean parents Cho grew up in Japan in an emotionally charged home. She witnessed her traditional father’s male chauvinism and the disastrous oppressive effect it had on her mother. These paintings full of symbolism depict Cho and her mother reacting to one another, quietly staring out from the canvas in strange melancholic states. Cho, a beautiful painter, has a talent for detail, lovely shapes, and soft colors making more palatable the raw emotions on the canvas. The High Line paintings have a gentler, softer mood imparting something mysterious, and unspoken. These paintings are portraits of the artist lightly and shyly reaching out to the outside world. Cho has found her own voice for manipulating paint to convey a narrative filled with intensity and deep feeling.
Hyemi Cho received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and her MFA from Tisch School of Arts at New York University. She has shown her work in Italy at Bergamo Arte Fiera, Galleria Aus18, Allarmi 3. In 2003 she completed a mural in Gifu, Japan and has been included in an exhibition at ShouTou Museum, Tokyo, Japan. She has also shown at Riviera Gallery and 9th Street Market in New York. She received the Urban Artist Initiative Fellowship in 2009 and New York Foundation for the Arts grant in 2004.