Là ou Ailleurs
December 18 - March 14, 2009
Rick Wester Fine Art is very pleased to announce the second exhibition in its series RWFA Picture Projects, Jehsong Baak: Là ou Ailleurs. Jehsong Baak, a Korean-American photographer living in Paris, has been photographing his immediate environment, friends and intimates there since 1998 while also documenting his prodigious travels in Europe, the United States and his native Korea. His photographs were selected, edited and published by Robert Delpire, the famed publisher of Robert Frank's The Americans, in a 2006 monograph, Là ou Ailleurs. These images, from Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Chicago, and New York, are at once new and familiar, private and universal, inviting and dissociative.
Guided by the adventurous formalism of Robert Frank and the Czech photographer, Josef Koudelka, Jehsong Baak has pushed beyond their legacy of powerful, wandering images, building his own lexicon of complex visual epiphanies, magical happenstance, and emotional synchronicity. With a keen expertise of transparency, reflections and abstraction, Baak still conveys intimacy, personal expression and emotional overlay in all of his pictures. This is evident in images such as Reflection of a woman, Woman pressed against glass, and Self-Portrait with woman and donkey. Through the incorporation of reflected light, shadows, and transparency, Baak highlights temporal moments that reflect his own transience. Combining the existentialism of Frank and the gypsy mentality of Koudelka, his subjects are close yet just out of reach — temporary moments of life in constant motion.
Photographing in black and white and utilizing the grainy, contrast-laden immediacy of many followers of Frank's influence, Baak's prints are plastic representations, bending the increasingly rare pure photographic printmaking process to the artist's will. The photographs rightly demand attention. They envelope the viewer with poignancy intricately imbedded in images of strangers, friends and lovers and in self-portraits clearly steeped in personal histories.
Born in 1967 in Junju, South Korea, Baak moved to the United States with his father at the age of nine, moving several times throughout the South. He has lived a peripatetic life since, something reflected in every aspect of his pictures. Baak studied architecture at the University of Michigan and began to photograph after moving to New York in his late teens, turning to it full time when he moved to Paris in 1998. His work has been exhibited broadly throughout Europe. He has been featured in solo exhibitions in Groningen, Holland at Stichting Noorderlicht in 2001; Galerie Vu, Paris, 2002; Daniel Miller Gallery, Los Angeles, 2006, Phillips de Pury & Company, Paris, and Galerie Nikki Diana Marquardt, Paris, all in 2006; Holland Urban Photography, Amsterdam, 2007; and Pg Art Gallery, Istanbul 2008. In 2005 the Dutch government commissioned him to photograph the island of Schiermonnikoog, one of the few remaining isolated agricultural communities in Northern Europe.
The current exhibition features twenty-five works, most of which have not been seen in the United States before. The exhibition will be Baak's first one-person show in New York.