Candy Koh 10:30
Space 776 is pleased to present Candy Koh’s solo exhibition 10:30.
Candy Koh is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is influenced much by the spiritual origins of art – in particular the shamanic traditions of Korea, where they spent several years as a child. Their works incorporate the ways in which artists historically acted as spiritual community leaders, truth-speakers, or otherwise vital figures in fostering a sense of group identity across various civilizations around the world. Koh asks whether artists can still occupy the same role in our contemporary world, where capitalism, specialization of professions, and social media have relegated artists to performing a secular job. The uniqueness of contemporary neuroses and collective but vastly disparate dilemma of the human species are some challenges before the shaman-artist of today. In the work teller (2018-2023) (to be performed every week during the exhibition), they perform the spiritual artist’s role as a contemporary “job,” sitting at a desk for set hours and churning out drawing after drawing while still attempting to emotionally engage with visitors.
Often, Koh actively avoids figurative elements in their works to bypass any filtering mechanisms of history and the rational mind, instead striving for visceral art that necessitates empathy and openness. They believe that through associations created through recognizable figurative elements in a work, the rational mind can hinder the openness that allows for energy exchange. Calling them “energy diffusers,” Koh creates works that actively ask a viewer to feel and acknowledge the presence of a work in the viewer’s space. The push to feel and set aside the rational mind primes the viewer for a similar openness in other spaces, with other people.
At the same time, the artist is painfully aware of how no one is free from history and the finite limits of our being, such as the physical/psychological conditions that shape us. Their signature element of placing date/weather (sometimes time) stamps on all of their works is a constant reminder of how much we are bound to our specific circumstances and the finiteness of measured time – an artificial mechanism created to help us exist with a semblance of stability. Despite their resistance to references and figurative elements, Koh does insert figures into their elements like shapes of the human body, monsters, and everyday objects. Through these, they acknowledge the inevitable condition of being a person who cohabits space in the fabric of society and human history.
The exhibition provides a survey of the artist’s distinct style and how their body of work continues to evolve over the course of their artistic practice, through their life-long struggle with health issues, and drawing from their experiences in various disciplines. Featuring works spanning the course of their career from 2007 until the present, the exhibition juxtaposes their abstract paintings with works with figurative elements that they see as two sides of the same coin. Memorial to Self (2007-2023) – including a sculpture they first created during some of their deepest struggles with illness in their early 20s – holds the past, present, and future together in one participatory work. The artist pays their respects to their past self and asks viewers to engage with their own selves by writing a note to their past selves, and/or a wish for their current/future selves. The artist hopes that the exhibition will soothe and at the same time invigorate viewers – sometimes it is better to know we are part of a shared experience called humanity.
About the Artist
Candy Koh (they/she) is an American artist who currently lives and works also as a translator, writer, and attorney in New York City. Cycling through various industries throughout the years such as writing, carpentry, marketing, and law, they gained a unique perspective and approach to art-making. After receiving a BA in Sculpture and Literature from New School University, they graduated with an MFA in Art Writing and Criticism from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. They also hold a JD from Fordham University School of Law.
teller Performance* Dates:
Sunday October 1 @ 3-6 PM Saturday October 7 @ 3-6 PM Saturday October 14 @ 3-6 PM
Every week during the course of the exhibition, Candy Koh will perform their durational work, teller. During the performance, they will invite visitors to sit with them one-on-one and tell them about the visitor’s worries and wishes. After listening, the artist will create a custom drawing or “energy diffuser” to help their wishes come true. More dates may be added depending on the artist’s condition. Please check the artist (@candycandyesq) and the gallery (@space_776)’s Instagram accounts for schedule updates.
* Please note that on some days, the artist may film the performance for documentation purposes, to show online or for future exhibitions. They will not use audio from visitors while they meet with the artist, unless given permission to do so.
Side views of visitors’ faces may appear in some footages, but will be blurred if a visitor does not want their face to be shown.