Oh Chi Gyun


In 1989, Oh Chi Gyun was painting his naked body in the dim light of a television set in his dark Brooklyn apartment. Although he had just finished his MFA studies at Brooklyn College, New York, the previous year, the resulting nudes should not be dismissed as simple figure studies by a postgraduate student; their psychological density makes it clear they are anything but technical exercises. In them, we see the lean body of an Asian man in his early thirties—tense, perhaps desperate, yet resilient; he assumes poses like that of the crouching Discobolos or a coiled-up fetus, and often his figure seems caught in agony or some kind of spasm. In some of the earlier paintings from the gloomy series called “Human Body,” 1986–95, a leg, head, or torso is cut off by the edges of the pitch-dark canvas, leaving an incomplete body. Enclosed in an embryonic cell of delimited canvas, the prevailing

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