new-york

Byron Kim, Untitled (for E.T.), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 72".

Byron Kim

James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

Byron Kim, Untitled (for E.T.), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 72".

Best known for Synecdoche, 1991—a project comprising a grid of hundreds of monochrome “self-portraits,” the color of each faithfully corresponding to its sitter’s skin tone—Byron Kim has long been associated with contemporary art’s so-called multicultural turn. But of course, the very medium for which his work first gained traction (in the famously polemical 1993 Whitney Biennial, no less) sets him apart from artists such as Janine Antoni, Lorna Simpson, and Gary Simmons, with whom he is often grouped. Instead of shunning abstract painting—once widely deemed inadequate for conveying the politics of identity—Kim has insisted on the possibility of employing it as a vehicle for both individual signification and social content. In Kim’s hands, painting joins the sensual and the conceptual, as Barry Schwabsky put it in these pages over a decade ago. But this method

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