JAE KO | New Works


JAE KO | New Works
Apr 7 – Jun 11, 2022

Robischon Gallery is pleased to present its fifth Jae Ko solo exhibition, “New Works,” an investigation that has developed over decades with each of the artist’s adventurous new series. Since the mid-1980s, the Korean-born, Maryland-based artist’s sense of form and distinctive technique of utilizing rolled paper – namely adding machine and cash register tape – has made her a uniquely influential artist for over three decades. Ko notes that she “began by exposing these materials to the natural elements to see how the paper would transform and what type of metamorphoses would take place. I kept pushing what it could do. I would unroll and reroll it into as large forms as I could build by hand, and then I would soak it, twist it, or stack it. During this process, I learned how to control the tightness and looseness of the roll, thus significantly changing its look.”

In the exhibition, Ko returns to her well-known formal paper series of contained circular, ink-soaked sculpture with velvet-like, ribbon surfaces in a primarily dramatic hue of ultramarine blue, as well as an unexpected brief shift into a lighter blue and green. The largest works offer an immersive experience of undulating forms saturated with the intense matte blue color that fully anchors the exhibition. Each sculpture is boldly evocative, totemic even, in its elemental shape and material. Ko states, “As the paper absorbs the ink, its shape changes and it may collapse inward expressing a depth of poignant emotion – or it may be domed as if an expression of great hope and possibility. It’s in the potential of the common materials to be transformational.”

Ko continues to receive recognition for her ongoing floor-to-ceiling expansive installations that speak to the environmental issues of global warming, such as the artist’s massive iterations of Flow at Grounds for Sculpture, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston and Robischon Gallery along with additional international venues. While primarily viewed as an important pioneer of material abstraction, the artist continues to distinguish herself on many thematic fronts. In her adjacent series, Ko’s twisted or torqued rolls of paper are transformed to resemble animated, pulled taffy-like shapes with rich, subtly sheened surfaces created with calligraphy ink, graphite or glue. Having explored a dramatic color range intermittently throughout her career from jarring greens and magenta pinks to electric blues, Ko’s signature palette always returns to the nature-based tones of Sumi ink black, deep crimson and butter yellow. The sweeping, undulant lines of Jae Ko’s smooth-spun sculptures recall the wind-whipped pines frozen in motion and were in fact, according to Ko, inspired by the ancient bristlecone pine forests in California’s White Mountains during the artist’s extensive travels. Ko’s glacier white floor to ceiling installations recall the arctic; a sculptural form to marry with the light and shadow that surrounds it in both an essential and dynamic manner.

Jae Ko’s on-going achievement in technical and thematic resonance reaffirms this artist as not only noteworthy, but as having mastered a brilliant relationship between idea and medium.

Born in Korea, and educated in Japan, Jae Ko is a recipient of a prestigious Pollack-Krasner Foundation grant and a winner of the noteworthy 2012 Anonymous Was a Woman award. Ko studied at Toyo Art School, Tokyo, and received a B.F.A. from Wako University, Tokyo, Japan, and an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Maryland State Arts Council; numerous DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Her work is in the permanent collections of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; Washington D.C. Convention Center and Grounds for Sculpture, and the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan; among others. Jae Ko has exhibited throughout the US and internationally in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Canada. Her work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA; and group exhibitions at the Times Art Museum, Beijing, China; Arkansas Art Center, AR; the CODA Museum, Netherlands; Peabody Essex Museum, Boston, MA; and the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, CT; among others.