joseph park | moon beam caress

February 18 – May 22, 2005

Joseph Park’s paintings are characterized by cinematic spaces and lush landscapes bathed in Technicolor hues. Park creates intimate dramas in glowing rooms, seductive landscapes, and tender portraits, all of which are included in moon beam caress, his first museum survey.

Lovers in twilight. Hideaways under moonbeams. Ships tossed at sea. Almond blossoms quivering in the breeze. Park’s canvases ransack art and film histories, as well as contemporary pop culture, making a potent cocktail of both Eastern and Western visuality. One finds in his work oblique references to the spaces and characters of classic Japanese film (the quiet dramas of Mizoguchi or Ozu rather than the samurai epics of Kurosawa), French painting (the romance and languor of Fragonard rather than the heroic ideals of David) and anime (more Princess Mononoke than Ghost in the Shell).

Animals are most often the occupants of Park’s shimmering spaces. His characters are made sensual or wise, cunning or languorous under the artist’s brush. An elephant becomes an odalisque, a rabbit basks in the sunlight, a pony shakes her mane in the setting sun, and a bear takes the subway. In comic books and cartoons, both Eastern and Western, animals reflect certain psychological traits or stereotypes. In Park’s paintings, animals have their own existential concerns and preoccupations. While they may bear some resemblance, these are not the same sorts of characters that peddle breakfast cereals or chocolate milk mixes.

Although they take advantage of a rich pool of cross-cultural traffic, Park’s paintings are more than a sum of their appropriated parts. They coalesce to tell stories of their own—quietly charged encounters in which the inner life of each character determines the organization of his or her surroundings. Park’s close attention to this relationship between character and setting elevates his work above a rummaging of genres to become fantasies with their own unique vocabulary.

Joseph Park was born in Ottawa, Canada, and graduated with a B.A. from Cornish College of the Arts and an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts. He currently lives and works in Seattle.

Image Credits:
Joseph Park. Naturally (detail), 2003. Oil on linen. 36 x 43 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Howard House Contemporary Art, Seattle. Photo Credit: Roger Schreiber.
Joseph Park. Honorific, 2003. Oil on linen. 20 x 24 inches. Private Collection, Courtesy of Howard House Contemporary Art, Seattle. Photo Credit: Roger Schreiber.
Joseph Park. La Belle, 2002. Oil on Linen. 52 x 43 inches. Bodnar Family Collection, Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Roger Schreiber.
Joseph Park. La Grand Odalisque, 2001. Oil on linen. 30 x 36 inches. Collection of Ben and Aileen Krohn. Photo Credit: Roger Schreiber.
Joseph Park. Petite Folie, 2002. Oil on linen. 52 x 43 inches. Collection of Jacob and Ruth Bloom, CA.