Monday, April 28, 2014

On a Wednesday, It Started To Rain

The Canvas

On a Wednesday during spring break I made my very first venture into The Brooklyn Museum. My little sister and I trekked a few hours through the subway system from Far Rockaway to Flatbush Ave. and found the adventure to be well worth the time-suck.

First, we stopped off at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a filled canvas with spring blooms. The careful planning and care necessary for the gardens’ landscape is romantic and serene.

My sister and I took a long walk through the garden (free for you and one guest with your Brooklyn College ID!) trying to be sparse about picture-taking while we enjoyed the diverse foliage and flowers.

Second, my sister and I took a quick walk around the corner to The Brooklyn Museum. On the same floor as Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Table,” a strong, feminine, monumental, delicate, careful, intellectual and truly astounding piece of artwork that I recommend everyone to go and see, there is a smaller exhibit featuring a sequence of small, square canvases by Byron Kim.

They are each named “Sunday Painting” with the date the painting was done, simultaneously recording a moment in the natural world with renderings of the sky and a moment in the artist’s personal world with a few journalistic sentences.

I was struck by such a simplistic and artistic blend of the private and the public. What is more personal than a journal? And what is more communal than the sky? I think artists for centuries (although, most certainly in the past century) have been struggling with the question of what art is. Malevich and Mondrian try to create art that speaks to universality with geometry or pure color. Picasso, Monet and Matisse support the personal, to the point that scholars can see influences of their personal lives in the lives of their work. Kim’s simple, small square canvases are quiet, personal memories, recounting events of her own life while simultaneously rendering the more shared atmosphere as a background to her personal thoughts. Maybe Kim is trying to convey the relationship the two share, the public and the private, the personal and the more broad. One of the beautiful aspects of her paintings lies in the marrying of these two.

As my sister and I left the museum, feeling hungry and excited for the next leg of our Brooklyn tour (Theater for a New Audience’s “King Lear”) I took a look up, trying to remember a moment, a personal moment with my sister under the great dome of the world. and lo and behold, it started to rain.

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