Namwon Choi’s road trip Is a meditation on time, painting and perspective

Namwon Choi's mixed media painting "Shape of Distance (Green Striped Circle)."
Courtesy of David Naugle
Caption
Namwon Choi's mixed media painting "Shape of Distance (Green Striped Circle)." Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

‘Dot Dot Dot’ at The End Project Space is a virtuosic blend of abstraction and realism.

The End Project Space on Atlanta’s Southside is multi-hyphenated curator-creator-artist Craig Drennen’s local answer to those tiny but impactful independent galleries you might stumble upon in hipster Brooklyn enclaves like Bushwick or Williamsburg. The End lives on a desolate stretch of warehouses and industrial spaces facing the Lakewood MARTA tracks, but hidden treasures await within its nondescript brick facade.

There’s no better proof of The End’s high caliber concept and next-level art than the current show from Korean-born artist Namwon Choi. Smart and elegantly austere, the work is also — most surprisingly considering its formal rigor — loaded with feeling.

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A detailed view of the multiplicity of views contained in one circular painting "Shape of Distance (Faceted Circle)" by Savannah-based artist Namwon Choi. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

A detailed view of the multiplicity of views contained in one circular painting "Shape of Distance (Faceted Circle)" by Savannah-based artist Namwon Choi.
Courtesy of David Naugle
Caption
A detailed view of the multiplicity of views contained in one circular painting "Shape of Distance (Faceted Circle)" by Savannah-based artist Namwon Choi. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Choi’s solo exhibition “Dot Dot Dot” is a rendering of the physical and emotional texture of a drive. It’s about the rigor of travel and distant things you long for as you move from point A to B.

Drennen says that the work is inspired by iPhone images taken on I-16 through the windshield of her car on Choi’s frequent drives between her home in Savannah and Marietta, where her two children live.

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Namwon Choi's "Sequences 3." Photo credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Namwon Choi's "Sequences 3." Photo credit: David Naugle
Caption
Namwon Choi's "Sequences 3." Photo credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

“Dot Dot Dot” centers on a series of long, panoramic paintings in gouache and acrylic on panel. On a section of each panel Choi paints lovely photorealist landscapes in the moody blue of dusk. Her perspective is the road as it’s seen from behind the driver’s wheel. The windshield becomes a stand-in for the borders of a canvas with the road retreating in the distance. Those frieze-like rectangular pieces are balanced by round works like “Shape of Distance (Green Striped Circle),” a painting surrounded by neon-colored satellites that buzz around the work like gnats. “Blue Sphere” sits on the gallery floor nearby, bordered by a melon penumbra in one of the artist’s abstracted renditions of time, space and travel.

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"Blue Sphere" in gouache and acrylic on hydrocal by Namwon Choi is on view in a solo show at The End Project Space on Atlanta's southside. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

"Blue Sphere" in gouache and acrylic on hydrocal by Namwon Choi is on view in a solo show at The End Project Space on Atlanta's southside.
Courtesy of David Naugle
Caption
"Blue Sphere" in gouache and acrylic on hydrocal by Namwon Choi is on view in a solo show at The End Project Space on Atlanta's southside. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Choi’s lyrical blue views of the unfolding highway are bordered by bold color that nods to hard-edge abstraction. Choi plays with frames throughout her work, drawing Victorian cameo-like circles around her dashboard view, or cobalt blue and neon yellow rectangles that tunnel you into the work. Her color palette is a road crew rainbow of blue and green navigational highway signs, traffic cone oranges and the assaultive yellow and red stripes on H.E.R.O. trucks: the semiotics of the road.

It’s a push and pull between seduction and vigilance; the lulling, hypnotic monotony of driving, counterbalanced by the air of hyper-vigilance the roadway demands where warning blue lights and buzzing construction zones jolt you out of your mental fog.

Choi then accents several of her paintings with blue orbs the size of ping pong balls. She arrays her dot, dot, dots in rows of three: an ellipsis indicating time’s passage. “Dot Dot Dot” is about the strange ellipsis that time on the road can feel like — a kind of daydream fugue of repetitive passing signs and endless corridors of trees.

At its heart, Choi’s work is a wonderful melding of heady conceptual art and a modern spin on the landscape. The vantage we take is that of the car’s driver, but also the vantage of an artist breaking reality down into a view informed by an array of art movements and histories. And here, instead of the majestic, light-dappled vistas captured by Ansel Adams or the Hudson River School, Choi’s landscape is a consummately 21st century and American one, a natural world subjugated to our asphalt trajectories that bring us together and pull us apart. It’s also a landscape framed in the romantic terms of traditional painting butting up against a contemporary artist’s desire to address perspective, representation and form.

Caption
Artist Namwon Choi's exhibition "Dot Dot Dot" at The End Project Space examines ideas of order and longing, distance and distraction and uses the highway as an emotional conduit. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Artist Namwon Choi's exhibition "Dot Dot Dot" at The End Project Space examines ideas of order and longing, distance and distraction and uses the highway as an emotional conduit.
Courtesy of David Naugle
Caption
Artist Namwon Choi's exhibition "Dot Dot Dot" at The End Project Space examines ideas of order and longing, distance and distraction and uses the highway as an emotional conduit. Courtesy of David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

Credit: David Naugle

The work is transportive and virtuosic both for the artist’s skill set and for her delicious toggling between emotion and reason.


ART REVIEW

“Dot Dot Dot”

Through Dec. 30. 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment. Free. The End Project Space, 1870 Murphy Ave. SW, Atlanta. instagram.com/the_end_project_space, acdrennen@gmail.com

Bottom line: A top-notch show that manages to balance high-concept formalism and a potent musing on longing and landscape.