Poet John Keats once said,
"If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to the tree, it had better not come at all."
  Keats, 2-27-1818

With the introduction of the camera in the 19th century, the artist became free of the job of being the recording secretary of life.

Inscape IX-1 (Hiroshima), 2003, Mixed Media on Canvas, 36 x 36
<Inscape XII-1>

This exhibition of Kang's paintings at Artcore shows the fruits of this emancipation. For the camera, as cool as it is still (or in motion) cannot capture the likeness of a dream, nor the inner voice of the heart, nor the flight of the spirit across the inner landscape. Thus Kang titles a series of paintings "INSCAPE."

Mother Nature is the High Priestess of art. The INSCAPES are products of those teachings. The observation of nature leads the artist down the path of undivided attention. What one sees, is what one gets: The peace that surpasseth understanding - The meaning behind the veil of mystery.

Another series of paintings is entitled "MYSTERIES." The mysteries of geometry and color, and musical tones so pleasantly diagrammed by Pythagoras. This male rigidity is blended with the feminine harmony we have come to identify as intuition. To intuit is to know. To know deep within the laws of composition and the arrangement of shapes - It is the dance of the figure and the ground.

The primordial ooze begins to bubble and dissolve the sense of form. The isolation of image begins to blend into the community of the picture plane. That which would stand out begins to recede into the mists of rice paper.  The rice paper is saturated with color and then floats into position. The destination seems to be pre-ordained and yet the dominance of chance is everywhere.

The pleasure of the process shines through. The dance of the colors the dancers' steps are the same, only the ballroom is changed. The scumbling stumble - Viewers need to find meaning and subject matter.  The drive toward anthropomorphism extends to recognizable shapes, half-figures, words that are only sounds. Patterns and associations are important to us. The signal from the flames a flash of recognition the veil is in motion, yet all is still. After all it is a painting.

Notes and Questions: Why does this work persist?  The answer is the recurring dream of abstraction. Luring the viewer by giving the viewer the most space in which to roam free. The subversive "I don't understand" becomes a chorus of affirmative belief in the divine creator. The voice of the late painter Saul White whispers: "Abstract expressionism has become like jazz".

Another series "SERENITIES" (12 inch squares of 2 inch thick wood) display a wide range of moves. A vocabulary of scrape- smear drip - blot Mood altering.

Other notes I made on site refer to veils of scumbling and veils of rice paper. The paper predominates. One of the paintings is exhibited in the round. The largest painting is writing in color. Rectangular shapes organize and under-painting reverses.  Collage like structure Wall concrete surface Here I time travel from Dubuffet "earth paintings", through Olitski "mud and color field paintings."


<Mystery XIII-12>

The vertical need when landscape has a horizon forever The INSCAPE and the banishment of aim The redundant fugue and the leisurely control The balled up rice paper, a relief from the rushing past of Baroque microscope and telescope discover each other in an Eames film 10 X 10. Each view, a magnitude of 10. Mosquito on arm to beach in Florida to outer space, or the other way Mosquito, drop of blood into molecular duplicate of outer space.

The attention to the sides of the paintings Kang approaches sculpture sideways, then behind, but always  the painted surface The relief leads to sculpture The collage artist joy in gluing around the corners

Underwater field of movement, seaweed waves and beckoning colors and shapes Some of the conclusions are inherent in our genetic code.  The violin bow drawn across a plate of sand forms circular figures Amazingly free of dissonance.

Poet Jack Foley noted the performance aspect of abstract expressionist action painters The theatrical and therefore dramatic shifts in lighting and mood The jazz musician in solo to be captured in rice paper fibers The fibers adding line to the painterly plane.

The viewer is left standing The legs have that feeling of after a voyage, a return to solid ground. On a Sunday June afternoon, Artcore at Union Center in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles Ehja Kang paintings on view through June 29, 2003.

- George Herms