Long Live the Polar Treasure
June 3 – June 24, 2017
Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is Long Live the Polar Treasure, featuring new works by South Korean, Toronto-based artist Kisung Koh. Koh’s first solo exhibition with the gallery is dedicated entirely to the majestic and endangered polar bear. The artist’s fascination and love for wildlife are evident in much of his practice. Exploring the spiritual potential of the wild and its stoic inhabitants, Koh draws analogous connections between animal and human plights.
With its Arctic habitat seriously depleted and at risk given the onslaught of global warming and climate change, the polar bear’s existence and longevity as a species are no longer secure. Koh has used this body of work as an ode to the ongoing displacement and compromise due to the destruction of the bear’s environment. Drawing personal parallels with his own life, Koh identifies with the difficulties of deracination and the pangs of dislocated belonging.
Working in oil on panel, Koh creates beautifully detailed works, dreamlike in their atmospheric execution and dramatic in their contrasts between light and dark. Hyperreal depictions of these animals seem to emerge from soft hazy atmospheres or blackened darkness. Depicted in varying states of rest, in verdant landscapes to which they don’t belong, the works are beautiful but heavy with an ominous suggestion of sadness.