Hudson River Museum Presents Exhibition of Paintings by Contemporary Artist Seongmin Ahn
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YONKERS, NY, March 30, 2023—The Hudson River Museum is proud to present two new exhibitions this spring: Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside: Paintings by Seongmin Ahn and Collection Spotlight: Abstraction, 1950–1980, which open to the public on Friday, April 14, 2023.
In her ethereal paintings, contemporary artist Seongmin Ahn invites us to enter a surreal space of two separate yet connected dimensions, with mysterious drawers bursting with cascading peonies, blossoming plum trees, and splashing waterfalls. Ahn, who was born in South Korea and resides in New York City, deftly combines traditional Korean painting techniques with contemporary subject matter to express her personal journey to discover a sense of home as an artist bridging Eastern and Western cultures. She combines her artistic training in Korean black ink wash and color painting with an affinity for Western abstract and conceptual art. With its bold compositions and flat areas of saturated color, her painting style also reflects the influence of Minhwa, a Korean folk art that reached its height of popularity during the last century of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910).
Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside: Paintings by Seongmin Ahn features eight paintings from the series, as well as one from her earlier Flat File series, in which she first began to experiment with hyperdimensional, connected spaces. For the former, Ahn drew upon literary inspiration, specifically The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–56) by English author C. S. Lewis, in which the main characters enter a different universe through magic portals, including a wardrobe. “Its inside is bigger than its outside” is a direct quote from The Last Battle, the final book of the Narnia series, and refers to a stable whose doors open into yet another world. This bilingual exhibition, with interpretive texts in English and Korean, is organized by the Hudson River Museum and will be on view from April 14–October 15, 2023. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition at an American art museum.
In contrast to Western art’s use of a one-point perspective that focuses on a distant horizon, Asian art often features multiple perspectives. By employing a reverse perspective, Ahn creates the illusion that the open drawers become secret portals. Her depiction of two different dimensions in one painting reflects her interest in the principles of dualism, coexistence, and interconnection in Eastern philosophies, such as Daoism. Ahn explains, “In my paintings, by symbolic action and opening a drawer, two seemingly separate dimensions become integrated. It is a matter of how to find connection and openness.”
“We are truly honored to present these stunning and imaginative paintings by Seongmin Ahn,” states HRM Director & CEO Masha Turchinsky. “Ahn’s work deftly bridges two worlds, a current reality and an unknown universe, and traditional and contemporary art-making. Like the artist herself, the work navigates Eastern and Western perspectives to create a vibrant new space.”
Laura Vookles, Chair, HRM’s Curatorial Department, added, “The visual impact of Seongmin Ahn’s work stops us in our tracks, then keeps us riveted as we revel in its linear complexity and philosophical meaning. Her floral elements—with peonies and plum blossoms bursting from the canvases—ground us in the beauty and symbolism found in nature. ”
Ahn holds an MFA in Asian traditional painting from Seoul National University and an MFA in multidisciplinary art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. As an active participant in the contemporary art scene in New York and East Asia, she has exhibited work at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, and the Charles Wang Center at Stony Brook University. She has received numerous funding awards, including two Pollock Krasner Foundation grants, the AHL Foundation artist grant, and the Café Royal Cultural Foundation grant. Her work is in the collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Hudson River Museum.
Ahn was the HRM’s Spring 2019 Teaching Artist-in-Residence, where she led workshops for schools and the public in creating works of art inspired by lunar images in mediums as varied as sumi ink painting, folded-paper collage, 3D-spherical sculpture, Korean mask-making, and pencil. Her work is also currently on view in Order / Reorder: Experiments with Collections and was included in the 2020 exhibition Women to the Fore.
Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.
Collection Spotlight: Abstraction, 1950–1980
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Collection Spotlight: Abstraction, 1950–1980 highlights a selection of abstract paintings from the HRM’s collection spanning the 1950s to 1980s, when abstraction dominated the art world. In the postwar period, artists rejected realism as a barrier to creativity and experimented with pure abstraction in every medium. At the time, the epicenter of this activity was New York City, where Abstract Expressionism emerged and was championed by critics and Lower Manhattan gallerists. The exhibition was organized by the Hudson River Museum and will be on view April 14, 2023–October 1, 2023.
During the 1960s, other forms of abstraction emerged in reaction to the painterly energy and emotional content of Abstract Expressionism. These new developments are referred to collectively as post-painterly abstraction. Yvonne Thomas and Charles W. L. Foreman each worked in versions of hard-edge abstraction, with clean lines and bright colors. Tamara Melcher was a pioneer in creating shaped canvases for geometric paintings. Beginning in the 1970s, other artists, including Jack Lembeck, rejected the emphasis on the flat canvas and explored abstract illusionism. Satish Joshi, whose painting is on loan from his Crystals series, was inspired by geological formations and magnified faceted minerals.
During these three decades, American artists pushed the boundaries of abstraction, expanding the possibilities of painting in ways that impacted approaches to artmaking well beyond the 1980s. By that time, a growing number of artists were turning to representational work, ranging from landscapes to portraits, but their painting styles were often strongly influenced by the forms, colors, and spatial concerns of this period of modern art.
Featured artists include Charles W. L. Foreman, Alvin C. Hollingsworth, Satish Joshi, Jack Lembeck, Tamara Melcher, William Ronald, Esther Forman Singer, and Yvonne Thomas.
HRM membership makes a difference. Thank you to our members for making this exhibition possible.
Natalya Khorover, the spring and summer 2023 Teaching Artist-in-Residence, uses repurposed materials to bring a sense of eco-urgency and aesthetics to her work, ranging from quilts to installations. During her residency, Khorover will conduct unique, hands-on, upcycling workshops, inspiring creative vision while contributing to the health of the planet. For nearly twenty years, Khorover has been reclaiming and repurposing materials for her art, subjecting them to a process of transformation that renders them unrecognizable. She uses meditative hand stitching and mending of vintage linen, alongside her industrial sewing machine, to stitch and collage layers of translucent single-use plastics which would otherwise contribute to the pollution of our planet. Her work has been featured in periodicals and books including Surface Design Magazine, Fiber Art Now, SAQA Journal, Art Quilt Collector, Quilting Arts Magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine, Art Quilting Studio, and Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach, from North Light Books.
Upcycled Community Collage: The View Outside
Saturday & Sunday, April 8, 9, 22 & 23, 1–4pm
Saturday & Sunday, May 6, 7, 20 & 21, 1–4pm
Drop in and join this upcycling workshop offered over the course of four weekends, led by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Natalya Khorover and inspired by Order / Reorder. Create a large-scale, communal art quilt of the Palisades that is made entirely from recycled single-use plastics. We invite you to collect rinsed and cleaned shopping bags and any other colorful, soft, and pliable fabric-like single-use plastics from your home and bring them to the Greene Education Center to be used in the artwork. Work with this eco-artist to attain your creative vision while contributing to the health of the planet! Recommended for ages 8+. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Artist Tour with Seongmin Ahn: Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside
Saturday, April 29, 1pm
Join artist Seongmin Ahn for a tour of Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside, bursting with plum trees, cascading peonies, and waterfalls. Experimenting with hyperdimensional space, Ahn’s work reflects her interest in the principles of dualism, coexistence, and inter-connection in Eastern philosophy.
Yonkers Arts Weekend
Saturday, May 20, 12–5pm
In celebration of Yonkers Arts Weekend, enjoy free admission to the Museum and family-friendly activities, including art workshops inspired by Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside: Paintings by Seongmin Ahn and Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers. Create a floral arrangement with fresh blooms, take part in games and activities in the HRM Courtyard, and go on a scavenger hunt for flowers in the galleries. Fly colorful kites and compete in our kite festival. Join in Upcycled Community Collage: The View Outside, an eco-art workshop with Teaching Artist-in-Residence Natalya Khorover. Sponsored by City of Yonkers.
Fresh Floral Arrangements
Saturday, May 20, 1–4pm
Flowers are more than their attractive appearance—they can be symbolic! Work with artist Mike McManus to choose from an array of fresh flowers and create your own meaningful arrangement to bring home. Inspired by our current exhibitions Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers and Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside: Paintings by Seongmin Ahn.
Family Art Workshops
Flowers for Mom
Saturday, May 13 & Sunday, May 14, 1–4pm
This Mothers Day weekend, give the gift of everlasting flowers to the person who has nurtured you throughout your life. Make an original floral bouquet using construction paper, scissors, and glue. Recommended for ages 6+.
Saturday, May 20, 1–4pm
Make simple three-dimensional flower collages using recycled single-use plastic to create lovely compositions of flowers that will last forever. Designed by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Natalya Khorover. Recommended for ages 5+. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Image: Seongmin Ahn (South Korean, b. 1971). Peony 6, from Its Inside Is Bigger Than Its Outside, 2016. Ink and color on mulberry paper. Courtesy of the artist.
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The Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.
The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-growing collection of American art; dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations; Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.
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