Handmade, meticulous abstractions playing with color at Gallery Joe

The works of Nicole Phungrasamee Fein in where and Alex Paik in Recapitulation Bop, both on display at Gallery Joe, are small and precise experiments with color.

Alex Paik, Prelude and Fugue (Blocks), gouache, colored pencil, paper, 12 ½ x 10 x 2 in., 2012

Paik’s show, Recapitulation Bop, captures light and color in the process of transmission. The multi-colored paper works are like a physical representation of intangible colors that are not physically real. A classically trained violinist, Paik’s works approximate the course of musical preludes and fugues in a physical object.

Alex Paik, Prelude and Fugue (Airy), gouache, colored pencil, paper, 8 ½ x 7 x 2 in., 2012

Paik says in his statement that his works are “humble” and seek an intimate dialogue with the viewer. Physically small, three-dimensional, and partly projecting from the wall, the pieces are a graceful and unique abstraction of color and shape.

Alex Paik, Prelude and Fugue (Curve), gouache, marker, colored pencil, paper, 8 ½ x 8 x 1 in., 2012

Paik is also a founding member of the Tiger Strikes Asteroid artists’ collective, where works on display are often minimal and intimate. The pieces in Bop are entirely subjective, speaking to each viewer’s sense of shape and color. As a unique form of artistic work, they admirably articulate distinct streaks of perception that are thoroughly and exclusively human.

Alex Paik, Prelude and Fugue (Cutouts), gouache, marker, colored pencil, paper, 11 ½ x 11 x 1 ½ in., 2012

The overall impression of Paik’s works is synesthetic, not kinetic. The unique combination of musical notes, feelings and colors evoked by each piece could be different for any viewer depending on his/her sensibilities. The alteration of elements in each piece captures some degree of prelude and fugue, but only in the order and pattern that the viewer determines.

Alex Paik, Prelude and Fugue (Hanging Polygon), gouache, colored pencil, paper, 18 x 11 x 3 in., 2012

Phungrasamee Fein’s Where features the tranquil, ordered and precise watercolors for which the artist, of San Francisco, has become known. Her colors waver on the edge of perception, presenting an atomized form of brush-dots that openly partakes in its own structure.

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1060212, watercolor on paper, 14 x 14 inches

The interplay of color and blankness in the pieces seems like a human, existential concern. Or perhaps it is merely the works’ acknowledgement of an organic reality, of a grid of matter over nothingness bound together in a sort of affinity.

1060 detail
Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1060212 (detail)

The pieces are soothing but can also stimulate a desire to describe and encapsulate them in words such as “meditative” or “calm.” The eye, groping for a firm footing, finds itself drawn to the individual dots of color and the tiny imperfections in what appear to be geometrically rigid lines.

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1082612, watercolor on paper, 12 x 12 inches

The minimal simplicity of each work contrasts with the extreme effort of their creation and the huge number of drops and strokes that form each composition. In this way the art isomorphically reflects the world of the creator. The detailed, brush-dot to brush-dot composition of each work feels like the work of an artist who perceived the vitality on a molecular level of the diverse and infinite elements in the natural world, which under a microscope would also resemble a grid of dots.

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1080212, watercolor on paper, 14 x 14 inches

Like the works of Paik, Fein’s pieces invite the viewer into a slow and meditative conversation involving the senses of color and light. Both shows are full of handmade, meticulous abstractions and playful experiments with color that are serene, beguiling, and deeply rewarding of significant engagement by the viewer.

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1081312, watercolor on paper, 12 x 12 inches

Recapitulation Bop and where will be up at Gallery Joe through November 10.