Museum of Contemporary Art / Denver

Denver, CO



Critical Mass at MOCA/Denver


I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one on one, always, forever, now.

Damien Hurst


At some point in everyone's life, we all come to a place where the impact of critical decisions become acute and must be acted upon. Weighty issues such as of personal growth linked with the perpetual complexity of interpersonal relationships dwelling in theorem of change are brought to the forefront and confronted. For many artists, this type of introspection coupled with constant self-examination is a common occurrence. In part, the ongoing challenge of being an artist is the continual process of evaluation, in order to fully understand what to create, how to create it, what it means and who is the audience. (left: Albert Chong, Winged Evocations, 1998, detail of figure for installation; right: Albert Chong, Winged Evocations, 1998)

"Critical Mass" was conceived as a forum to discuss cultural identity that is based not on ethnic origin or popular labels but on individual cultural experiences and how that manifests itself in the making of art. The artists selected have become forerunners not because of multi-culturalism but because of their assertiveness to express their individuality. (left: Hung Liu, Red River, 1998, oil on canvas, 80 x 80 inches)

"Critical Mass" presents painters Hung Liu and Jaune Quick To-See Smith, who offer meaningful visual references about their cultural backgrounds. Each artist has a unique ability to make cross-cultural connections as mediators and bridge builders. On further investigation, the work transcends its ethnic signature and addresses current issues of values and experiences from their inherited past. Included are Albert Chong and Jaeha Yoo, both Colorado based artists, whose spiritually evocative works infuse images that record political, personal, and cultural statements. Chong's installation evokes a magical essence that possesses an intriguing allure of materials and imagery. Yoo also assimilates materials by combining physical textures, representational images with a visual simplicity that culminates in an abstraction of thoughts and emotions. (left: Hung Liu, Kings Sky-Queens Land, oil on canvas, 80 x 140 inches; right: Hung Liu, Nativity, 1999, oil on canvas, 80 x 110 inches)

The intent of "Critical Mass" is to initiate a chain reaction by fusing sociological, philosophical and artistic energy consequently triggering a snowball effect into uncontrollable explosion of visual dialogue. Density and beauty are merged into a unique blend of installation-based work and more traditional formats. "Critical Mass" is not reliant on sensationalism, angst or manipulation but offers viewers an insight into each artist's personal vision and life experiences. By dispensing with cultural and ethnic labels and focusing on individuals, we have the opportunity to engage in a discourse that also addresses artistic contributions to society, which furthers the continual process of defining our own identities. (left: Jaune Quick To-See Smith, McFlag, 1996, diptych, acrylic, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 100 inches; right: Jaune Quick To-See Smith, Cowboys and Indians, 1995, diptych, acrylic, mixed media on canvas, 80 x 72 inches)

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/28/11

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