This Thursday in Art 110, I found myself observing the wonderful art that hung on the walls inside the Max L. Gatov West Gallery. Upon contemplating the colorful art, I had the opportunity to speak to the artist, Yiren Elaine Kwak, and hear her story about her art. Yiren group up in West Korea and has lived in Fullerton, California, for some time. It is in her home in Fullerton where the inspiration for her art originates, for her home is surrounded by scenes of nature, including hills, trees, and lots of greenery, all of which is the central idea of her art. According to Yiren, her artwork constitutes painting by observing the scenery in her backyard and by memorizing it and trying to recreate it on her canvas inside her art studio. To the artist, painting on a canvas can be pretty stressful, so when she feels stressed out from painting on a canvas, she goes and paints on paper to relieve that stress, returning to the canvas painting once she is relaxed. It is no secret that art takes patience and time; Yiren’s first painting (featured image) took about a semester to complete and her other art took weeks, if not months.
Inside Gatov West Gallery, other artists’ work besides Yiren’s was displayed, and among them was Yiren’s good friend, Maryann Gonzalez. Because Yiren shared the gallery with her friend, she entitled the name of her exhibition “Harmony and Discordance,” which I at first did not understand because her art was alive and bursting with color, until she explained its significance. Yiren selected “Harmony and Discordance” as the title of her exhibition because her art contrasts greatly to that of Maryann. Yiren’s art depicts nature, greenery, life, where Maryann’s art arguably illustrates the opposite: decay, industrialization, and pollution. I then understood the meaning behind the name of the exhibition; Yiren’s art is “harmony” while Maryann’s art is “discordance,” a very fitting title for an exhibition indeed, inside a gallery where the art of two friends with contrasting themes are displayed. Upon observing Yiren’s art, it is obvious that nature is the model of her art, even in paintings in which nature is not directly illustrated, such as the one to the right. At a first glimpse, I thought it was just the lovely color red in interesting shapes and lines yet according to Yiren, this painting illustrated the desert, and similar green and blue paintings represented pasture and a waterfall. I did not expect this and I was intrigued to hear this; I believed to have found three paintings in her exhibition which did not depict nature yet I was mistaken. I find it amazing that Yiren did not have to paint an actual desert; she instead utilized warm colors to represent the heat and emotions that a desert would invoke.
Canvas paintings have always been my favorite form of art and upon entering Gatov West Gallery, I was amused that nature, which I love and find beautiful, was the star of the canvas paintings. The art is lovely; it is alive, green, welcoming, and serene, just as nature should be. I believe that Yiren captured nature accurately in her art, not just visually but in feeling as well; her art makes one feel as if one were really standing before nature, as if one could see the trees and hills in front of him/her, as if one could breathe in the clean/cool air, and feel the wind’s breeze. The presence of Maryann’s contrasting art is a nice touch to the exhibition and to me, it sends a message, that if we, the human race, do not take care of nature and the world, the result will be similar to what Maryann’s art illustrates: decay and pollution. If we as people maltreat nature, then we will lose harmony and the consequence will be discordance. It was a pleasure viewing Yiren’s art and having the opportunity to speak to her and hear from her.