These are dramatic semi-abstract pieces that offer no theory, idea or
vision of the world. Instead they present themselves for what they are - unsettling creatures, truncated standing human figures imbued with a kind of alien spirit, gods perhaps, or some sort of hero from the postmodern age. Such work, looking for ways to show and reflect upon modern reality, deliberately blurs the boundary between "sculpture" and "object."
Indeed, Park in these clay works humorously subverts common expectations about the pristine and precious status of art objects, especially traditional renderings of the human figure. Park's attitude in representing the fragmented figure combined with mundane objects is oblique, ironic, irreverent.
Park says he relies a lot on intuition. His male and female subjects are emblematic, emotional and deliberately depersonalized. Typically he will construct a pair of standing legs slightly larger than life and with bare feet attached, and then he builds upon this foundation not what we might expect, such as a torso, but a ceramic bowl or a fanciful, hooded, space-capturing form that shelters a small, free-standing panel with a human face modeled on it.
Such elision often helps create dramatic tension. In other instances here, elision attempts to express, with some success, that a dramatic episode is a futile enterprise.
Park seems to be beginning to tackle the ambitious notion of presenting a new hero to his audience, although in this he has some way to go. What he's captured with more assurance so far is some sense of the impact on human beings of the disruption in the day-to-day order of things so rampant in our post-industrial age.
Come autumn, it will be back to Seoul for the talented Park.
University of the Arts Haviland Hall Galleries, N.W. corner Broad & Pine Streets. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through Sept. 2. Prices: $30-$900. Phone: 875-4832.
GILBERT LUBER. Akira Kurosaki, a maker of colorful semiabstract wood-block prints, is exhibiting at Gilbert Luber. A university teacher in Kyoto, Japan, Kurosaki is in this country now as a visiting lecturer at Cornell University.
Crimson and velvety black seem to be his favorite colors. Yet his work has no heavy overtones except that he gives shapes an organic, slightly surreal twist.
Various still life setups have a theatrical presentation, almost as if they were little stage sets, complete with dramatic-lighting effects. Such an approach, when the artist isn't careful, can produce results that are merely cute or that resemble gift-shop displays. But in the end, fine craftsmanship is the dominant impulse here, so that even when there's some suggestion of magic talismans, it is secondary to a refined handling of materials and techniques.
Such works are for Kurosaki the expression of his movement back and forth between the real and the imaginary. In these new woodcuts, the artist appears reluctant to totally immerse himself in fantasy, preferring to stop short of any encounter with the unknown. Seeing the new work, including the milder- mannered images of his Korean series, convinced me that Kurosaki might benefit from such a venture.
Gilbert Luber Gallery, 1220 Walnut St. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Through Sept. 19. Prices: $100 and up. Phone: 732-2996
MOMENTA. Timothy Aubry at Momenta uses the documentary medium of photography to express a conceptual vision. He likes to contrast the urban landscape and mundane artifacts with skyward views capturing billowy cloud forms. This he does by piecing together photographic assemblages. Some of the photos have been cut up and collaged.
Such arrangements, in which repetition is a key element, alter their meaning, manipulating time and space in various ways. These explorations create seemingly realistic scenes on a rather large scale.
Now that Aubry has reached this point, it remains for him to manage to develop either the expressiveness or the idea potential of this style in some significant way. For he has yet to confront his subject matter head-on, giving the upper hand here to decoration over concept.
Christina LaSala, at the same gallery, shows small primitivist wall-reliefs of cast-plaster shapes covered with encaustic and paint. The atmosphere of her modest and unpretentious work is one of poetic sadness, the sadness of a person struggling in isolation for purity and beauty.
Momenta, 309 N. Third St. Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Through Wednesday. Prices: $375-$500. Phone: 922-4753.