Byron Kim’s Art of the Bruise

THE DAILY PIC: At James Cohan, Kim presents elegant paintings of contusions.

THE DAILY PIC (#1712): A visit to the current show by Byron Kim, at James Cohan on New York’s Lower East Side, should be mandatory for anyone who thinks pictures deliver up their meanings at first glance—and by “anyone” I especially mean neuroestheticians and other science-minded art fanciers.

Simply looking at Kim’s paintings makes you think of genteel abstractions by Jules Olitski, or maybe by Mark Rothko on a notably mellow day. Kim takes care to craft elegant, ultra-subtle washes of dark earth- and skin-tones.

Discover the source of Kim’s imagery, and the meaning of the works altogether flips: His paintings are inspired by the look of bruises on flesh—not abstract at all, but ultra-realistic and hard to take.

Understand that one little fact about these pictures’ origins, and you suddenly don’t want them over your sofa. Give viewers that single piece of information about Kim’s pictures, and you can bet that new bits of their brains will light up.

This isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. There isn’t one work of art where simple perception trumps knowledge. (Images courtesy James Cohan, NY)

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