Magazine article Artforum International

Yunhee Min: Equitable Vitrines

Magazine article Artforum International

Yunhee Min: Equitable Vitrines

Article excerpt

Yunhee Min

EQUITABLE VITRINES

One's initial impression of Yunhee Min's new work, an intervention of poured paint and fluorescent light onto two long, normally transparent vitrines installed in the lobby of the Equitable Life Building--an iconic if somewhat long-in-the-tooth skyscraper in Koreatown--depended a great deal on how (or when) one first came across it. If the lights happened to be switched off (as they were at regularly timed intervals), Luminaire Delirium (Equitable Life or soft machine), 2015, displayed a milky, matte opacity, obstructing or deflecting one's view of the vitrines' interiors with turbulent, tainted whites, shadowed by hints of darker, more vivid colors swimming just behind. But if the cases' hidden fluorescent tubes were set aglow, those same soured, opaque whites blazed into translucency, revealing brilliant layers of liquid color, and transforming this patch of corporate interior into a minor phantasmagoria of stained glass: Viscous, chemical yellows bled into inky blue-blacks and absinthe green; shades of red suggested a continuum between maraschino syrup and stage blood.

In previous paintings and installations, the Korean-born, Los Angeles-based artist has made use of unclaimed custom house paints, and some of the most striking hues seen here called to mind the Home Depot reject shelf. A glass panel that looked innocuous, even sunny when unlit--a bit of vernal green here, some goldenrod smudged into a meringue of dirty white--gleamed like a tortoise-shell sconce when its internal lights were switched on, becoming a backlit swirl of dungy brown marbled with moss green and chewing-tobacco spit. Min has a knack for this sort of experimentation with color, materials, and perceptual play. She also has a history of installing her work in surprising, liminal places: For "Out of Bounds (From Near and Afar)," a 2003 solo exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, she not only added polychromatic bands of color to the gallery's steps and facade but wrapped one of the city's public buses in them as well.

A visitor's initial response to the exhibition probably also hinged on her degree of familiarity with the venue in which it was installed. …

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