December 9, 2022 - January 28, 2023
@Helen J Gallery

Helen J Gallery is thrilled to present Rough Growth, an exhibition featuring works by Min Baek and Annette Hur.

Baek and Hur’s paintings are sharpened like instincts. Gestating in the estuaries of abstraction and biology, they collect stains, washes, streaks, and splinters – visceral responses to shared and private pressures. Baek’s swarms of granular marks feud and cooperate, suspended in vaporous climates, while in Hur’s dense undergrowths tissue feverishly dissolves and reconstitutes into time-lapses of life cycles.

Both bodies of work contain struggles for self-preservation, drives found equally in heroic sagas and everyday life. In an O Chong Hui short story, a protagonist facing mundane hardships appeals to the Morning Star, a comforting symbol remembered from her childhood. But the celestial body and its twin, the Evening Star, both known for guiding the tragic (and mostly male) protagonists of classical and Romantic literature, had been ‘hammered into cold, rusty fragments’ over the course of time. Baek and Hur’s works anticipate the limited shelf-life of these familiar metaphors. Instead, they draw from reservoirs of memory, shaped by ‘rough growth’ — a title lifted from a painting of Baek’s — to navigate womanhood, displacement, and other biographical realities.

Even the now-defunct Morning and Evening Stars were keen to survive — their prior aliases and alter egos include medicinal plants, cherubs, medieval weapons, Babylonian goddesses, and rare elements. In truth, they are not even stars but a single planet, Venus, appearing low in the sky at different times of year. Baek and Hur harness this adaptability, maneuvering their works around habitual taxonomies and parables, freely merging animal, vegetable, mineral, and personal.

© Min Baek