LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2014) — Radiant paintings by Korean artist Chung Hwan Park have energized a hallway in the Kentucky Clinic at UK HealthCare. The 40-piece Closet of Prayer exhibit donated to the UK Arts in HealthCare program is on display at the new fourth-floor North Gallery location.
The colorful tableaus in vibrant Korean pigments were donated by New York artist Laura Smith, who was raised in Lexington, and her husband and art collector, Martin Nederpelt. The couple acquired the collection when Park, a close friend, returned to Seoul, Korea, in 2010 to take care of a family member.
Based on a traditional Korean method, these paintings are characterized by geometric shapes and layers of rich color the artist created with thin brush strokes. Park identifies with both Korean and Western painting styles. His work reflects influences from the American color field painters, also known as abstract expressionists. The paintings incorporate the colors of Hanji, or brightly hued Korean paper, gradually transitioning in stages of color on the canvas.
"One of the most important elements in my recent work is color itself," Park said. "Numerous colors piled up in the form of stripes simultaneously contrast and complement one another, producing harmonious unity."
The paintings were created during the 14-year period Park lived in New York City where he worked in a studio in the Chelsea art district. Park, who has exhibited work in the United States and abroad, continues to paint and teach in Seoul.
Laura Smith said that Park's interest in people runs very deep. Considering the time he's spent with a loved one in health care facilities, he is glad to know his works are on display as a source of inspiration at UK HealthCare.
"I felt he'd be very appreciative of a facility whose founders know the contribution art can make where healing is needed," Smith said. "These paintings have the depth and spark to encourage healing."
Smith learned about the UK Arts in HealthCare program while exhibiting her own work in Lexington. She had never heard of a health care facility embracing the arts like UK HealthCare, which designed its architectural blue print with spaces for art in mind. Describing Park's exhibit as both healing and energizing, Smith and Nederpelt hope his work will support the natural introspection that occurs in people dealing with illness as they walk through the hospital and clinics. She and Nederpelt plan to visit the UK Chandler Hospital to see the pieces next April.
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