Most art today is very goal oriented... so much so that it discovers nothing so much as the outcome it proposed from the outset (which is usually a secret handshake for some subculture acceptance rather than a personal exploration). In short it "belongs" to a discreet discussion or group rather than extend its orbit and relevance. This is a narrowing of Art's capabilities, which is a parochialism and I find it too linear. It is just too predicated upon finding or attracting an defined audience or peer group (which has already been isolated by much more savvy marketers in the non art world). Whereas, the truly great stuff just sits outside the standard definitions and doesn't need to draw a crowd. It is neither trying to be professional, nor is it fitting in... it simply persists in its exceptionalism. Besides, the problem with goals is that they typically shut down the process right when it could become interesting and unanticipated. In short, to quote the late Robert Hughes art should be an avocation not a vocation.
In contrast to the parochials, Yoonhee Choi is an artist who is all about distilling the immediacy of the moment with a kind of designer's shorthand. It is stripped down with an elegant urgency and as such her work is a sensitive instrument of the present. I'd even go so far to say that Choi's show rePLACING at Blackfish
brings a refreshing poetic poise to an Portland August more populated with a fetish of effort or form over the idiomatic refinements.
Perhaps it is her training as an architect at Yale but instead of creating work that began as an interest or explanation (which is very art school), Choi's work exists as a kind of meditation upon the possibilities available. She chose a provisional simplicity, lyricism and an improvisational sense of wonder through line color and dots over any pedagogy. This is a work for sensing and as such is like the forked tongue of a serpent, or antenna of an ant... it has no goal but to be sensitive.
For example her works on paper resemble circuit diagrams or a project manager's sketchpad exploration of a problem, utilizing black or blue ink and mostly primary colors, lines and basic shapes like circles and squares. For example, a work like Agent almost looks like a floor plan, or notes on the performance of some real estate agent showing a house. In another work Cabaret, the lines, dots and colors seem to dance like musical notations ala Paul Klee. There is more than a little Bauhaus constructivism at work here... recalling Kandinsky's later work but I dislike the white frames and glass they are mounted in. Somehow the glass deadens the wonder and texture of these delicate schematic works, which would be better presented without frames and glazing. This does not happen to the show's star Mooring though.
Consisting of hundreds of stick pins numerous washers,an entire 30 ft wall, tiny dots of color and popped balloons this piece is exceptional. Each pin is like a pole, flagging the viewers attention with some Lilliputian semaphore. Some are porous circles hung up for the day like some gnome's hula hoop. Other are tiny sandwiches of wonder with a swatch of fabric, some foam and a dab of color on the pin head. Kinda like a elf seamstress trying to convey secret messages. It is completely charming and engaging forcing the viewer to address the wall in a very intimate way that has more design to it than Richard Tuttle
in that this seems to invite a semiotic explanation as everything seems like a type of shorthand or punctuation. I love this shift in scale making the largest work in the room the most intimate, in fact Mooring harnesses some of appeal of the fly fishing lure, and she is deft at dangling the bait before our eyes.
Yoonhee Choi, Mooring 2013 (detail)
This reminds me how Dada, Pop and Abstract expressionism were all key precursors to minimalism. For Choi's work the ready made and everyday re purposed in stoic automatism of Mooring recalls everything from Miro's constellation series to Julie Mehretu and Sarah Sze. The sense in all of them is wonder and activity but Choi and Miro are the only two I find poetic in their uncluttered appreciation of the line, dot and color block... a. I want to see more from Choi.
(*note, today is the last day of the show)