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  143B Orchard St New York, NY 10002 U.S.A.     GALLERY OPEN HOURS : Wednesday-Sunday, 11am to 6 pm     Able Fine Art NY Gallery      


1982 M. F .A. Sungshin Women’s University, Seoul, Korea
1978 B. F. A. Hansung University, Seoul, Korea
1974 B. A  Seoul National Teacher’s College, Seoul, Korea

Exhibition / Solo Exhibitions
Solo Exhibition - 15 times
2016 ‘Empty Mind' Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
2016 ‘Empty Mind' Anna Gallery, Seosan, Korea
2015 ‘Empty Mind' Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
2015 ‘Empty Mind' Able FineArt NY Gallery, Chelsea, New York
2014 ‘Empty Mind' Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
2014 ‘Empty Mind' Sejong Gallery, Seoul Korea
2014 ‘Empty Mind' Able FineArt Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2014 ‘Empty Mind' Gana Insa Art Center, Seoul, Korea
2014 ‘Empty Mind' Sorrento Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2013 ‘Empty Mind' United Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2013 ‘Empty Mind' Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
2012 ‘Empty Mind' Seoul Art Museum, Insadong, Seoul
2011 ‘Talk, with Nature' BON Gallery, Insadong, Seoul
2011 ‘Talk, with Nature' Germany Kaarst City
2011 ‘Talk, with Nature' Philippin Manila National Museum of Contemporary

Selected Exhibition & Group Exhibition
2016 Group Exhibition, Able Fine Art NY Gallery, New York, USA
2015 Unmixed Sense, Able Fine Art NY Gallery, New York, USA
…Exhibition of Korea Watercolor Artists Association
Japan-Korea Watercolor Exchange Exhibition
Suwon Watercolor Artists Association
The Position of Korean Concrete Painting
& 110 times Group Exhibition at Home and Abroad

Art Fair
2016 Korea Galleries Art Fair, Bon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2016 MARKET ART + DESIGN, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Hamptons New York).
2016 KIAF. Bon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2015  AAF Singapore, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Singapore)
2015 Daegu Art Fair, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Daegu, Korea)
2015 AAF Battersea. Able Fine Art NY Gallery (England)
2015 KIAF, Bon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2015 AHAF, Bon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2015 Busan Art Show, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Busan, Korea)
2015 AAF New York, Able Fine Art NY Gallery
2015 Gyeongju Art Fair, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Gyeongju, Korea)
2015 Korea Galleries Art Fair, Bon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2015 CONTEMPOPARY IN NOVOTEL SUWON. Bon Gallery (Suwon, Korea)
2014  Daegu Art Fairs, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Daegu, Korea)
2014 CI Art Fair, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Istanbul Turkey)
2014 Singapore AAF Singapore, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Singapore)
2014 KIAF, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2014 AAF Hampstead, Able Fine Art NY Gallery (England)
2014 Busan Art Show, Asan Gallery (Busan, Korea)
2013  Cologne Art Fair, Asan Gallery (Germany).
2013 AHAF, Asan Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2013 Busan Art Show, Asan Gallery (Busan, Korea)
2013 SOAF, Asan Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
2013 Fountain NYC Asan Gallery (New York)
2012  Busan Art Show, Asan Gallery (Busan, Korea)
2012 BAMA, Asan Gallery (Busan, Korea)
2012 Beijing Art Expo, Asan Gallery (Beijing. China).
2012 SOAF, Asan Gallery (Seoul, Korea)

*Artist's Statement
My work's theme is "xuxin." The term, xuxin is the Chinese character which means "emptying one's mind."
If and when emptying your mind or heart, you could not be confused in any situation.
Normally, the reason why we are confused and are worried about is because we are filled with too many things.
Nevertheless, we go for the doctor to fill our minds with more things.
Paradoxically, however, the more you empty your mind, the more you are filled with things!
That is to say, "Less is more." 
When you try to empty your mind, your mind would be filled with more things and to get decreased would be get increased in number or volume.
This is the aesthetics of emptying. Needless to say, emptying is beautiful. 
In my work, I try to express "the world in which emptying or emptiness itself is worthwhile and is beautiful, free from avarice, though it is completely empty.
In the piece of a china tea bowl called "Maksabal," which is empty, I try to express "xuxin, symbolic of the essence of my own aesthetics. 

A utensil of Maksabal itself is impregnated with infinite depth, quietness and naturalness and so it is simple plain, and unadorned, being unsophisticated. 
Also, I set importance on blankness or margins and temperance, and try not to contain a lot of things in my work of art. 
Thus, xuxin is the new world in which I try to spread my own aesthetic realm and values. 
I intended to cautiously express in the canvas that "emptying" and "being unadorned" are worthwhile in themselves, though it is empty.
And I tried to paint a picture which is "deserved" and deep and worthwhile," rather than "well-drawn."
Too much greed or avarice on materialism degrades and vulgarizes the meaning of life. 
It is said that emptying your mind while living a life would enhance the dignity of your life in spite of yourself. 
I wish that even the moment of just looking at my work would make every audience return to the state of "xuxin" and look back on themselves to think of "emptying" and "blankness or margins." 

* Review

Kang Soon-Ja  Painting the Transcendence of the Vessel

Robert C. Morgan

In the most practical sense, a clay vessel is a container, an object that has been crafted, build-up, or thrown on a wheel. The rough-hewn quality of the surface may appear remarkable in the manner it reveals the tactile marks by which the vessel was made.  The result contains both an internal and external quality, yet the space between the inner and outer walls of the vessel is precisely the same. This inner/outer space is made from pushing, pulling, pinching, and a subtle layering of the clay material. The culmination of these efforts is revealed as a human trace left by the artisan.

The brute existence of a clay vessel is contingent on seeing the human trace. Striations and indentations suggest the desire of the artisan to create utilitarian form from the earth as a crudely crafted bowl. The connection of the vessel to the earth, and the earth to the human hand, is finally ineffable. To go one step further, the art involved in painting the vessel –as shown in the work of Kang Soon-Ja – offers a distinct sign that retains a beauty of its own. In doing so, her paintings reveal the essential humanness of the vessel, the primary focus on its utility and grandeur as a spiritual object. The quality within these paintings further suggests a feeling of transcendence, which is what Kang hopes to confer on these extraordinary relics.

Her paintings of vessels are concerned with space, as space represents the Buddhist concept of “empty mind” (in Sanskrit, wu-nien) within the vessel. By working with watercolor on canvas, Kang’s paintings render a delicate, yet precise observation as they focus attention on the circumference of the lip. The lip of the ceramic vessel represents a transition between the exterior form and the interior space hidden within. In most of her paintings, our eye-level of the painting is registered on the side of the vessel without revealing the interior space. They are a few notable exceptions where a nearly erotic hint of the interior is shown. Yet the symbolic meaning of the vessel in Korea carries spiritual importance, especially during the Goreyo Dynasty when some of the most refined ceramics came into use.

The vessels painted by Kang have been chosen on the basis of their fundamental appearance, which is a combination of their functional, symbolic, and aesthetic properties. Her paintings take us back ever further than the Goreyo period to the origins of the vessel in late Neolithic times. Here Kang captures the true dignity of the form. Her paintings represent the evidence of the artisan’s hand and spirit as they are instilled –consecrated – within the space of the object. This consecration of the vessel through the act of painting connotes a paradox as to the existence of these earthenware forms. Kang implies a distillation of the vessel in which the form appears both spiritual and material.

To write about Kang’s paintings of vessels is different from writing about the vessels themselves.  First of all, the removal of the vessel from a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional representation may become perplexing. If we focus on a painting by Kang, our aesthetic understanding of the work appears differently than focusing on the vessel as an object unto itself.  Within the painting, there are visual qualities that expose details in a manner distinct from those seen while looking at the actual vessel. Studying Kang’s painting is not seeing the vessel, but a representation of the vessel. In either case, the aesthetic experience is different. Kang’s paintings are once, maybe twice removal from the actuality. They belong in another realm, in a sense, more virtual, more heightened in their potential expressive content.

Still, the process of painting a vessel from the side or upside down with a rose or other accompanying plant-life becomes a kind of puzzle or philosophical interface. To assume the experience of looking at a painting by Kang Soon-Ja is the same at looking at the actual vessel is incorrect. This is further related to the conundrum posed by the Surrealist painter Rene Magritte in a work, titled The Treason of Images. Beneath Magritte’s painting of an enlarged pipe, he writes: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe.) The linguistic puzzle implies that the exaggerated painting of the pipe is not the same as the real pipe any more than a painting of a vessel by Kang is the same as a real vessel. 

Even so, her paintings seem to possess a mystery all their own. In the Koran language, there are specific terms used to describe this mystery in terms of a paradox. I sense this paradox in her work based on my own experience. Although primarily coming from a Western point of view, I have little doubt of the veracity of Kang’s paintings. They possess a truth that exceeds my cultural limitations. They reveal a subtle displacement of what is real into the domain of transcendence.  This ambiguity between the material and spiritual worlds is where I locate the importance of her paintings.

* Review

"Aesthetics of emptiness" -Void Heart
Art critic: Lee Jae-eon

Seeing Kang Soon-ja's painting, powerful energy somewhere in an empty space comes over me, beyond a reenactment image polished in a delicate and skilled, and also refreshing and perky stoke. What on earth is the identity of such unknown energy felt in her painting? It is too strong in its impact to name it an aura. Literally, it is a canvas packed with animated energy. It is the very Kang Soon-ja's water color painting. Does her painting hold freshly drawn water containing the vital force at dawn?  In the painter's paining, there are her laborious efforts and passion with all her soul and might. It is not simply because of her own hyper-real description power which drew the object in a more real way than the real one. object. Also, it is not because of an eclectic mix of magnanimous brush strokes, like writing one stroke of a brush. I cautiously presume that maybe it might have been stemmed from a serious coordination of the relationship between the painter's inner side and the artwork: from a serious and deep self-reflection for projecting her own inner value in a most faithful way on a canvas, that is to say, for the harmonious and aesthetic extremity.
Leaving behind her gem-like textbook paintings, Kang Soon-ja's water color paintings are newly born starting from 2012. Departing from an reenactment of a full-screen version of containing satisfaction from the "conversation with nature," in other words, from the aesthetic objects of nature, she began to draw a new type of paintings. They are the conceptual paintings or abstract ones which carefully embodies the philosophy and values her own inner side orients toward in the canvas.  Her paintings, past or present, reveal her capability in its fullness in terms of description power, construction and color expression, like the archtype of watercolor paintings.  Prior to 2012, she relied a lot on a photographic frame in terms of a reenactment method or construction, which required a newer approach and motivations. In the end, she seems to have made a decision that she would draw a "painting characteristic of her," or "a painting-like painting of depth, rather than "a well-drawn painting." A new world for showing her unique aesthetic realm and value, that is her art series of "void heart." 
What is strikingly noticeable on the canvas of "Void Heart" is her focus on the interpretation and reconstruction of an object, diverging from a faithfulness to a given reality or object as it is, more than anything else. As one sees, her art series of Void Heart is blank in the margins of those pieces. It is another expression method of the painter who internalizes the value of "emptiness," which reveals the essence of her value and aesthetic sense. This void and empty space in a state of freedom from all thought and ideas would not be thrown inadvertently.  “The aesthetics of emptiness" is also a buzz of the contemporary civilization.
Would there be a message as fervent as it to our civilization in which fastness and filling are regarded as everything? Of course, the margins in the 'void heart" paintings are not monotonously blank. In the past, too, the painter would display the margins in a dramatic and aggressive space in which wonderfully cunning fantasies and energy flash. The physical expression unique to the watercolor in which water makes by itself are revealed most satisfactorily on her paintings. In particular, her sense, which tries to coordinate a metaphorical and fantasy-like ambience which matiere unique to well-absorbed silk paper and the water spout out via interaction remarkably draws attention of viewers.

Pay attention to the piece, out of her paintings in which there stood an old plum tree set as the background of the screen. The art piece is expressed(modernly reinterpreted) as a painting in the literary artist's style in which the patina picturesque beauty emitting from the "Pomo's method of Molgol, which roughly translates into a method of painting without drawing the outlines, and the dynamics of a dancing brush are the gem. The mysterious mixture which creates synergy while contrasting to a detailed descriptive power arouses curiosity as to what shock wave the painter will deliver in her next paintings. Just like being responsive to the display and expression of the margins up until now, the material which the painter draws is mainly earthen ware bowls. Naturally, the situation in which flower sprays or blossoms are simply blended could be a mixture more conceptualized from the Kimyeongjeoljihwa-styled paintings featuring utensils, sprays and fruits, etc often drawn in the Korean traditional paintings.  The material which the painter tries to express with all her soul and might  is also a plain earthenware bowl. Earthenware bowls are the crystal carved out by a aesthetic sense of a marvelous realm, "Artless art"  The painter, Kang makes the earthenware bowls appear as a symbol of "Void Heart," the essence of her own aesthetics. 
The reenactment of earthenware bowls in her painting is too real or hyper-real, which is perceived as a reality in a totally different dimension. It is paradoxically a reality in a ultra-extreme condition. The reenactment or reproductivity of an earthenware bowl makes viewers engrossed in a phantasm because the earthenware drawn in the painting seems to be more real than a real one. Appearing quite heavy, rather it is likely to let off a metal sound by a slight touch of wind. The painter contemplates the object which does not hold any technical skill, a constant typical norm or a manual and which is literally created in a state of perfect self-effacement in an eye of beauty of an uninterested interest. The appearance of this material strongly preaches what the difference between "Void Heart' and "emptiness" is and why those phrases are differently read. It is not a "nothing" that is totally groundless, nor a "nothing that is a huddle to creation.  It would be a thing that exists(being there) but  should be emptied, or could be possibly filled in only when being emptied. To put it differently, it could refer to an enlightenment for deep reasoning of existence. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is similar to what you call to a "Gyeyoungbae Cup," which roughly translates into a glass over which the water is spill when you fill the glass so full. This gives one a lesson of such a "cup which warns of filling." The painter Kang sings a beautiful world of being indifferent to gain. In such a world, even though a glass is "empty, it is valuable in itself."

Paradox of Too Real a Reenactment

Art critic: Lee Jae-eon
Inner motivations, such as quietness, contemplation and meditation are values which are regarded as more valuable in the environment today. Because those are not only the method which keeps a self from being infringed upon and buried by stimulus, noise and greed, but also a way which heals the injured self. Exploring these values intensively in contemporary art today is one of the inevitabilities of history. Naturally, attempts which try to realize the subject by letting out a louder voice against outside noises are an meaningful phenomenon as well. However, art could interpret such an stimulating environment but a competition against them could be surely too much for art. 

  Kang Soon-ja is an painter who seeks an aesthetic value of  "emptiness."
What the one Korean traditional plain earthenware bowl only keeps the canvas, albeit monotonous yet losing its density and tension, is her painting.  The plain earthenware in the Joseon period(1392-1910) which keeps an inner value in coarseness and which also influenced the Wavi in the Japanese art of the ceremonial tea-making is significantly reenacted in Kang's paining. Added to the counteractive material like the Korean traditional Kimyeongjeoljihwa paintings featuring utensils, sprays and fruits, etc, she puts an emphasis on hyper-realistic reenactment. As a watercolor painting, her more realistic power of description for the earthenware than a photograph cannot but be a wonderful realm.  The image of an earthenware gradually is largely closing up in the canvas in her recent paintings and is being turned into a world of abstraction.   
The hyper-realistic description paradoxically frees the limitation of reenactment and the virtue of abstention reveals that her earthenware bowl painting is the result of a high degree of a laborious work.  As she approaches toward a bigger canvas, a protean informel image reenacted in the realm of "doing nothing" and "being free from all thoughts and ideas" glows more. Sure enough, an image of the plain earthenware bowl again confirms that it is the world of aesthetic consciousness enjoying an endless freedom, beyond even the framework of abstention. The object itself lay on the big canvas requires an experience of contemplation in an extreme  state of abstention but the abstract order within that form, indeed, seems to enjoy its hotness and freedom. 
In the painter's canvas, the strong contrast of "existence(or being)" and "non-existence(or not being)" is noticeable yet circular and supplementary each other. The image of an  earthenware bowl of strong cohesion  or the margins of an void space seem to suggest an ontology of transience. Seeing her method of addressing the canvas' background, one can find that it is set as space metaphor suggestive of something. It is the reminiscence of times prior to the "Not being" in tense and is the futuristic potential tense of "being." The image of the earthenware bowl reaches the extremity of reenactment and rather is appeared into abstractness. It will become someday the "existence (or "Being)" as the object of sacrificing itself or turning to nothing. The paradox which the reenactment of extremity shows. It would also be a transience of all things in the universe, or the samsara of all creation which painter Kang sings, wouldn't it ?

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