Ken Gun Min: Silverlake Dog Park

21 May - 25 June 2022
Overview

Opening Saturday, May 21, 5–8pm

 

Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles is pleased to present Silverlake Dog Park, a solo exhibition by Korean-born, Los Angeles-based artist Ken Gun Min. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

 

Silverlake Dog Park draws equally from real and imagined locations in Los Angeles. Anchored in visuals that are inspired by the east LA neighborhood of Silverlake, Min has created an environment that blends memory and fantasy to explore the emotional states of longing, melancholy and euphoria. His impressionistic scenes provide a fluid arena where the mundane becomes magical, and people and places are no longer governed by the rules of our known world. An exploration of desire and intimate connection in public space, this Queer idyll is ripe with possibility and wonder.

 

The series was born over the past few years, during a time when the artist was relatively confined to his home and studio. Experiencing life from a solitary distance, Min began to construct his own world as a method to explore the intimacy and wonderment that was otherwise inaccessible. This notion is palpable in a work titled Someday when spring is here, we'll find our love anew (ass up), 2022. In this painting, Min has left the outer edges of the canvas raw, providing a pictorial space that appears as if seen through a portal. This effect offers a calculated distance between the viewer and the subject, heightening a sense of voyeurism and offering a point of entry. Among the dense California flora, a nude man lies peacefully prone, reinforcing a yearning to be in the natural world and to engage with others, yet still just out of reach. 

 

Grounding the exhibition is a new large-scale triptych that offers the most expansive view of Min's picturesque world. Each panel features a central subject: an elegant dog, a blistering sun, and a young man surrounded by lush foliage. The scale of the painting and the density of the landscape is fully immersive, physically situating the body within this unique environment. As pigments and forms blend together, the passage of time is distorted, offering a surreal narrative in which time and space meld.

 

In an accompanying series of portraits, Min explores ideas associated with the performance of masculinity, particularly as it relates to his experience as a gay Asian man living in the West. Both tender and powerful, these portraits render men––some known, others imagined––surrounded by flowers, gazing confidently at the viewer. Min’s subjects operate as both self-portraits and portraits of others contending with Western culture’s desexualization of Asian men, as well as its exclusion of Queer men from the realm of masculinity in general. Like his landscape paintings, these portraits offer a platform to express a range of complex emotional states.

 

Min’s personal history has also greatly influenced this new series of paintings. After spending his formative years in Seoul, Korea, Min lived in Zurich, Berlin, and San Francisco, before finally settling in Los Angeles. Having lived and worked in Eurocentric capitals for almost two decades, Min’s practice evolved to challenge Western conceptions of sexuality, gender, and race, especially as it is depicted in Western Art History. His works have long explored cross-cultural figures and sites, both of which are constructed through a range of references that include historical textbooks, illustrations, advertising, and an archive of personal photography. These ideas are further extended via the materials that the artist uses to create his works, including western-oil paints, Korean pearl pigment powder, hand adorned beading and stitched fibers, all coalescing into a polyvalent world that reflects the various influences and interests of the artist. 

 

In transforming the familiar into the fantastical, Silverlake Dog Park provides a romantic space for lust, leisure, and expression free from the oppressive perspectives of contemporary life. It provides a place to reflect on lingering memories and emotions, while considering the possibility of a more fruitful tomorrow. 

 


 

 Ken Gun Min (b. 1976 Seoul, Korea; Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) studied western painting and art history and theory at Hongik University in Seoul, Korea and received his MFA from the Academy of Art, University of San Francisco. Solo exhibitions include Silverlake Dog Park, Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles (forthcoming); Wounded Man, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, K contemporary, Denver, CO; and Becoming Palm Tree, Gae Po Project Space, Seoul, Korea. Group exhibitions that featured Min’s work include Sparkle in, Fade out, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Bozomag: Bozo Family Hoedown, M+B gallery, Los Angeles, CA; and 36 Paintings, Harper’s, East Hampton, NY. He was a Hopper Prize finalist and received awards from Direktorenhaus, Berlin, DE and the Kellogg Foundation, New York, NY. Min’s work has been featured in Artnet, ArtMaze Magazine, and Artsy Editorial.

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