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Joseph Park
at Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by Cherie Louise Turner

Continuing through August 20, 2011

Joseph Park, whose recent work is featured in this solo exhibition, “This is Prizmism,” is an outstanding painter. It is apparent as soon as you enter the gallery, which is divided into three specific sections: one representing the “school” of prizmism (works done in a variety of explorations using the style); another, the full realization of the style; the third, the “masterpiece” — we are witness to the steady progression of a genre.

This is a style that the artist has developed and, as the name implies, subjects look as if they’re being seen, at least partially, through a prism: angular and often featuring a riot of dazzling color.

Fittingly, the school section features figure studies, plaster casts of heads, and the equipment the artist uses to practice his craft, namely, an easel that can hold the artwork at any angle or orientation and at a variety of heights. In the next room are eight medium-sized works of various subjects: a portrait of Van Gogh, a self-portrait, two home interiors, a pair of abstract works — demonstrating a full range or realization of the application of prizmism. The final room has only one work: “Wizard,” a large (81 x 72 inches) prizmism-ed take on Diego Velásquez’ “Las Meninas;” a nice art historical nod not unlike those we find in the work of Vik Muniz.

The show’s concept hovers on gimmickry. As other critics have noted, the work tends to be overly rich and somewhat show off–ish. But this can be forgiven: Showing off is only unforgivable if you can’t deliver. And Park delivers. He inspires us to want to look with care at each and every painting; to realize which works alone make his case. If he adds on beyond that, the rest serves to demonstrate that Park is a master of his vision.

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