Kate Greatmochi Bae is an artist moving painting forward with her process-based peeled acrylic forms. Much of her work is devoid of wood or canvas supports, instead molding paint skins into sculptural elements. "The process ultimately changes the identity of painting, which transforms when there is no canvas, brushstrokes, or content: it exists only as material," she writes. "The painting becomes something else, not quite sculpture but not quite painting, either." Bae's painting vernacular has developed into several distinct bodies of work, each of which approaches the materiality of paint from a fresh perspective.
Possible, Between and Together (2019) uses cast flower forms to mimic Yellow Yuchae (canola) flowers native to Jeju Island, South Korea, once home to a semi-matriarchal society. But the yellow also memorializes a 2014 tragedy in which a ferry en route to the island capsized with 433 passengers aboard. The flower forms hang resplendently in strands from the ceiling, falling into a tub with a small puddle of water and handmade paper boats. It is a beautiful and heartfelt meditation on heritage, history, hope, and tragedy.
In her series Language of Painting (2011-2017), we see many natural forms, all cast in acrylic paint— flower petals, leaves, vines. Bae cleverly expands the margins of painting by rendering her painted forms in space without a canvas support. She compares pushing the boundaries and language of painting to the experience of navigating life as a Korean-American immigrant woman. Indeed, if painting is like language then, like language, it is constantly changing and evolving. It is alive and Kate is helping it grow.
Bae's seriesThought Forms is more playful and experimental than her other bodies of work. Most feature some kind of wood, canvas, or plastic support, refigured with poured, peeled, and patterned paint. The series seems to work like a sketchbook or springboard for other projects, and the numerous directions and iterations of this work emphasize the material dexterity and focus of projects like Language of Painting and Possible, Between and Together.
Kate is currently artist in residence at ChaShaMa in new York city until December working on a whole new body of work, then is off to the Serlachius Museum residency in mantta, Finland. And in September she will be part of a two person exhibition in Reykjavik, Iceland. Give her a follow on Instagram to keep up! @holymochi