Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Studio Visit w/ Alex Paik

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit the Brooklyn studio of Alex Paik.
Paik's small, delicate, abstract compositions of paper, gouache, and colored pencil provide complex visual experiences form humble means. 
In addition to his prolific studio practice, Paik is also the Director of  TSA, an artist run, artist curated exhibition space in Bushwick.

From the Artist's Statement:

Songwriter Harlan Howard once said that all you needed to write a good country song was “three chords and the truth.” In many ways, my process follows this maxim -- by taking a lo-fi and straightforward approach to artmaking, I hope to reveal some truth about my materials or process and create work that is sincere, graceful, and intimate.

My small-scale paper assemblages hug the line between being tightly composed and loosely improvised and recall the early formal experiments of the 60s and 70s and the serious playfulness of Paul Klee, Richard Tuttle or Thomas Nozkowski.  The work reflects my love of contrapuntal music, imitating the way that the theme of a fugue is repeated, turned upside-down, and folded into itself.  There is a sweetness about the work in the twee color palette and the toy-sized scale, but at the same time a fuck-all swagger in the laughably lo-fi paint handling and angular, chopped up forms.

I’m not really a formalist in the sense that I agree with the Platonic undertones or the inherent Modernist dogma associated with it, but more like the 5 year old son of a formalist who is inventing a sandbox formalism – a formalism that is more interested in serendipity and invention rather than answer-giving or unified systems of thought.

Maybe if Ellsworth Kelly, Paul Klee, Thomas Nozkowski, Frank Stella, and Richard Tuttle were the Lost Boys on Never Land and grew up on video games, classical music, and indie pop, this is what they would make.  Or maybe they would focus on fighting pirates.

Alex Paik in his studio in Brooklyn, NY 2013

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