Event: Pursuits, at Howard House, 2017 Second Ave, 256-6399. Through Oct 20.
Someone wrote that these paintings are satires of the works you draw from--by Ingres, Bouguereau, and Elvgren. I don't see them as satire, or spoof, but as something else. "No, it's just that sometimes animals are good substitutes for humans. I'm attracted to the paintings that I re-do. I think if I was going to spoof them, I'd use paintings that I don't like so much."
I thought that by using the poses and compositions that are familiar and then removing the humans, the usual focal points, you bring out the works' other strengths: the composition, the drapery, the details. "I've learned so much from actually painting these. It's always a learning process. One of the intentions, I guess, was to teach me how to paint better. There's so much to be gained by entering someone else's mind and figuring out why they make those kinds of choices."
How did you choose the palette? It's not grisaille, exactly. Bruneille maybe? Why monochrome instead of full color? "This kind of reddish sienna and faded ochre are two predominant colors in my grandma's house in Korea. Those are the colors I started to use to depict the scenes from Korea. Then it got a little softer, a little redder. So they're associated with a certain place and mood. Certainly it refers to the nostalgia I feel for those places."
Is it associated with the nostalgic act of looking at old paintings? "I hadn't thought of that.... But I still learn a lot more from composition when I do them in color."
Does this make it harder? "It's a different way of analyzing how space is formed. Sometimes color interferes. I didn't choose to do the Rouen Cathedral by Monet, with the light and the different atmosphere and temperatures. But I would love to do that in a monochrome palette, with hard edges."
Take all the things we identify with Monet and throw them out--what would be left? "What would be left? I don't know. That's what I'd like to see."