the phillips collection

Sijae Byun Wins Emerging Artist Prize

Surrounded by silks, stretchers, dozens upon dozens of squeezed paint tubes, brushes and other art-making materials, Korean-born artist Sijae Byun sits on a stool in her studio at the Arlington Arts Center and says with an exuberant smile, “I am very thankful.”

Less than two weeks ago at the third annual (e)merge art fair, Byun was awarded The Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize. The award is the first of its kind to be given by the nation’s oldest modern art museum, and supports Byun as an important new artist, whose work is thought to be original and of art historical significance.

“I think her paintings were the most impressive work that we saw at the fair,” director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and curator at large at The Phillips Collection, Klaus Ottmann said during a phone interview. “It was just a matter of which one we should buy.” 

Ottmann, along with The Phillips Collection director Dorothy Kosinski and senior curator of modern and contemporary art Vesela Sretenović, selected Byun’s Wind #7 In Jungle as the winning work and the piece that would be acquired for the museum’s permanent collection. The selection was made after all three administrators saw Byun's work displayed in the Washington Project for the Arts booth, curated by executive director Lisa Gold. 

Wind #7 In Jungle is a large-scale artwork with content and context equal in monumentality to the towering 37.5 x 50.5 inch work, made in a highly complex practice of layering and painting silk. A dynamic and energetic ovular form asserts itself against a modulated pink background. A variety of textural surfaces and intricate patterns intertwine and support one another, creating a surrealist structure. A purple flower hangs quiet and closed, ready to bloom, provoking thoughts of nature. Environmental themes such as these are supported by vegetal imagery resembling lily pad leaves and green algae, and are underscored and considered critically juxtaposed the architectural forms, rendered in sharp manufactured lines scattered throughout the work and clustered heavily at the bottom right. Strands of dark hairs and veins appear to weave the elements together, and one cannot help but to consider whether the blood-pumping vessels give life to these traditionally oppositional forces, or if the human body constricts and strangles, further complicating the relationships between natural landscape and mechanical construction.

“This particular work fits really nicely into [The Phillips Collection's] long tradition and conversation that goes on in our collection about color and painting, but at the same time, brings in something new, a different kind of dialogue in terms of material as silk and some non-western aesthetics that play in the work so it’s kind of expanding that tradition,” said Ottmann.

The Phillips Collection has a long history of supporting emerging artists. Duncan Phillips, the seminal art collector whose collection was the precursor to the 1921 museum and who played a key role in introducing America to the modernists, was widely responsible for launching the careers of such important figures as Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keefe and John Marin. In keeping with the spirit of Duncan Phillips, Ottmann believes award and grant programs that both support emerging artists in the local DC-community and engage artists and viewers in a global dialogue, should occur regularly, given the appropriate funding.

When asked about having her work in The Phillips Collection, Byun said humbly, “I’m very happy, but I also, I want to work harder and be a greater artist. I really like [The Phillips Collection] and I want to be one of the great artist there.”

The acquisition of a painting is of particular significance for Byun, who was told by her undergraduate teachers that she should avoid painting and instead focus her artistic practice on installation. Following the advise of her teachers, Byun studied fabric design and primarily worked in installation and set design, until a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York noticed Byun’s aptitude for drawing and suggested she start painting.

Since those initial conversations in 2007, Byun has combined painting with such mediums as stop motion animation, installation and fabrics, to create nuanced and challenging artworks that share a masterful command of space.

When asked about how the prize will affect her artistic practice, Byun said it will help her maintain energy and encourage her to continually work harder. For Byun, she is most concerned with keeping her eyes and her mind strong, and always following her inner voice.

Sijae Byun’s solo exhibition, Vaginascope, is currently on display at Tallybeck Contemporary in New York until November 15, 2013, and her solo exhibition, Circulation-Respiration at the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, DC, opens November 1, 2013.

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

Roxanne Goldberg

Re-Post: Georges Braque and Ken Kewley

Art lovers everywhere are fully aware of what it means to be obsessed with an artist, art movement or particular piece. Artist and obsessor Ken Kewley is also aware. This July, Kewley will be a visiting artist at the Washington Studio School, giving a talk on the artist who inspires him most: Georges Braque. And on August 22, Kewley will be back in the district do conduct a workshop at the Phillips in conjunction with the exhibit.

The talk is July 11 from 3:30-5pm and if you're interested RSVP  here.

If you can't make it to the artist talk, be sure to check out the exhibit itself. Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928-1945 will be open until September 1 at the Phillips Collection. It's a wonderful opportunity to see four of Braque's paintings known as the Rosenburg Quartet together for the first time in 80 years. There will also be many other pieces that display Braque's artistic prowess, as well as his individuality in the art movements of the 1920's-1930's. Since the founder of the Phillips Collection, Duncan Phillips, was a huge patron of Braque since the '20s, it is the perfect time to fulfill that urge to see some Cubism. 

May 10/11: Must Sees

The art forecast is calling for a compelling weekend jam packed with fresh ideas and creative concepts. Be sure to check out our must sees for the weekend:

Opening this weekend:

Hamiltonian Gallery, The Salon of Little Deaths
1353 U Street, NW
Open May 11th – June 15th, 2013 (Opening reception May 11th, 7-9pm)

Matthew Mann and Milana Braslavsky revitalize the enduring genres of landscape and still life with a contemporary approach in The Salon of Little Deaths, an exhibition on view at Hamiltonian.

Matthew Mann investigates narrative and the pictorial vocabulary of painting through disjointed landscapes, dead birds and eruptions of foliage on fields of luminous color. The result is a collection of cryptic works that speak at once to art history and visual perception in the digital age.

Milana Braslavsky‘s seductive photographic still lifes of fruit on tabletops are replete with quiet violence, sexual tension and a wry sensibility. Contrasting the delicacy of ripe fruit with crisply folded linens and household objects, Braslavsky’s sumptuous photographs function both as still lifes and evocative portraits of unseen personages while communicating themes of desire, loss and decay.

On view now:

Heiner Contemporary, STASH
1675 Wisconsin Ave, NW
Open April 26th – June 8th, 2013

Heiner Contemporary is pleased to announce STASH, an exhibition pulled from the gallery's flat files and storage, featuring work by Polly Apfelbaum, Ingrid Calame, Tara Donovan, Deborah Kass, Kate Shepherd, Jon-Phillip Sheridan and Austin Thomas. STASH diverges from typical programming by presenting artwork that is usually viewed by appointment only. From Polly Apfelbaum's bright floral woodblock prints to Tara Donovan's intricate relief print from a pin matrix and Austin Thomas's intimate journal pages, STASH features an array of artistic practices and pursuits. Together, the works reflect the gallery's aesthetic interests and demonstrate an over-arching concern for color and pattern.  (Cover photo courtesy of Heiner Contemporary, Ingrid Calame)

The Fridge, …with love and care
516 ½ 8th St, SE
Open May 4th – 26th, 2013

with love and care is an international group show curated by DC-based artist Astrotwitch. The show features seven artists from places as far as Sao Paulo and Berlin known for creating hand-painted posters to put up on the street.

In an era when it’s simple to print hundreds of copies of a poster, these artists continue a slow production process that creates one-of-a-kind public art that will decay with time, or, more typically, will live on the street for a few weeks before it is stolen or buffed out.

The show will feature original posters, photography of the artists’ work found on the street and a poster mural on the façade of The Fridge.

Participating artists include N.O Bonzo and Circle Face (Portland, OR); MAR! (Los Angeles, CA); Galo (Sao Paulo, Brazil); Alaniz (Berlin, Germany); and DECOY and Astrotwitch (Washington, DC).

Last chance:

The Phillips Collection, Angels, Demons, and Savages: Jackson Pollock, Alfonso Ossorio and Jean Dubuffet
1600 21st Street, NW
CLOSING May 12th. 2013

The Phillips Collection dives into American abstract expressionism to reveal a little-known but captivating story that focuses on the relationship among three of the movement’s seminal players: American painter Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), American artist and patron Alfonso Ossorio (1916–1990), and French painter Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985). Featuring 55 paintings and works on paper from 1945 to 1958, the exhibition illuminates a key moment in postwar art. It reunites a number of works by Pollock and Dubuffet from Ossorio’s collection for the first time since they were dispersed after his death in 1990.

Angels, Demons, and Savages highlights visual affinities between the artists’ work, tracing the impact of Dubuffet’s art brut (art by the mentally ill and other so-called outsiders), the experimental spirit of Pollock’s technique, and Ossorio’s figurative language. As the focal point of the art world shifted from Europe to America, the exchange among the three helped bridge the widening gap between the continents.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,