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Queens Chronicle

Tightrope act between shape and color

Korean-born Soonae Tark’s paintings balance and play with shape and color

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:56 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

Artist Soonae Tark’s acrylic paintings are just as fun as their names might suggest — “Sugar candy,” “Gathering,” “Orange in an orange,” and “Love you.”

The titles might not be unique — though much more intriguing than “untitled 1”— but, the style is all Tarks. The Seoul, South Korea-born painter shifted her look to stacked-up blocks 16 years ago when she moved to the United States.

She began playing with shape and color with doodles on paper, she said. Tark continues to draw to keep disciplined in her craft, and as a remedy for painter’s block. Some of her drawings will be displayed at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning for eight weeks beginning in September.

Those original drawings started with sharper square blocks that eventually morphed to the rounded rectangle that can be viewed at Yegam Art Space in Flushing though Sept. 8. The paintings in this exhibition range in canvas type — wood, Plexiglas, typical fabric canvases and paper — and in size, from a half foot by half foot to a couple feet tall.

Tark paints these stacks of rounded rectangles in towers that look like in real-life they would topple over more easily than a wobbly Jenga column. However, on Tark’s canvases the pillars look surprisingly sound.

“They are very stable and have harmony,” said Yegam Art Space curator Dong Hee Lee, adding that the works remind her of Stonehenge.

The appearance of balance doesn’t always rely on the size of the shape, but on color as well. The darker-colored shapes ooze a sense of heft whereas the cream-colored and yellow blocks, no matter how large, seem to float.

“Color has weight,” Tark said. “White versus black balances out.”

Tark’s style also lies in her smooth and exact brush stroke. The acrylic paint is applied in such a way that the viewer can’t see a brush stroke. The edges of each shape are exact and neat. Even the sides of the canvas are drawn with X-Acto-knife precision.

During the last four years she has started playing with using Plexiglas and wood as canvases. Tark, a Sunnyside resident, was commissioned by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs to paint a 20-by-8-foot mural in Woodhaven’s PS 306 on wood. She said she liked the weight of the material. The same applies to her Plexiglas works, which are displayed for the first time at the gallery.

“Plexiglas is so much fun,” Tark said. “I am excited to hear the response.”

Yegam Art Space, a modern, Korean art gallery, opened in 2009 in conjunction with the attached Korean food restaurant.

Soonae Tark’s solo exhibition

When: through Sept. 9

Where: Yegam Art Space, 196-50 Northern Blvd., Flushing

Tickets: Free, (718) 279-7083

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