According to the exhibit description at Christie Noh’s current solo show at the Warehouse Artist Lofts Public Market, “[Noh’s] paintings show simple, mundane experiences of the human condition.” While Noh may illustrate mundane human experiences, the paintings in the exhibit, titled “Things Whose Purpose Is Slowness,” are anything but ordinary. Within her fictional environments, which consist of strange juxtapositions of people, objects, and humble interiors, Christie Noh exposes the private, playful, and sometimes melancholy world of the human subconscious.
Noh explores the subconscious mind with her distinctive painting style, which blurs the lines between representational and abstract art. It gives her paintings an undefined, dreamlike quality. This quality is evident in Noh’s painting, TV, in which a young bride is seated in a room with floral wallpaper, a window veiled with a translucent white curtain, and a vintage television set. The bride holds a bouquet of orange flowers and appears to stare blankly at the TV screen. Her veil and dress are composed of a single white form and the flowers on the wallpaper are painted almost as vividly as the flowers in the bouquet. She is rendered with thin veils of paint, which gives her a delicate, ethereal appearance reminiscent of someone half-remembered from a dream.
The exhibit also includes paintings from Noh’s series Empirical Resolution. In Empirical Resolution Attempt 012, Attempt 061, and Attempt 123, Noh’s playfulness expands beyond her painting style. Similar to TV, these paintings depict ordinary moments, such as a person reading a newspaper whilst sitting on a toilet. They also contain everyday objects, including a juxtaposition of houseplants and headphones. Yet at the same time, Noh’s compositions include surreal elements such as a sunny side up egg draped over a rung of a ladder or a plant growing out of a floating head. Furthermore, the paintings in this series may be of special interest to the art nerds out there, since they contain a number of famous art historical “cameos” including Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh’s Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, and Rothko’s Rust and Blue. But the viewer does not have to recognize or understand the art references to enjoy these paintings. Either way, viewers will enjoy the unique juxtapositions of geometric and organic forms in whimsical, dreamlike environments.
While Noh’s paintings seem strange and otherworldly, they are intriguing depictions of the subconscious – where all the mundane aspects of daily life intermingle to create strange dreamscapes. Her compositions are reminiscent of the confused moments after waking up from a vivid dream. While we are left with only fragmentary images, we feel the need to hold on to those fragments and ponder their significance in our waking lives.
“Things Whose Purpose Is Slowness” will be on view at the WAL Public Market until May 31, 2016. The WAL Public Market is located at 1104 R St, Sacramento.Check out Christie Noh’s art here.
Words and Photos: Justina Martino.