GaHee Park - New Now New York Wednesday, March 9, 2022 | Phillips

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  • GaHee Park’s Still Life with Fish, 2017, stuns with bright, abstracted forms to create an interior space that feels initially familiar and recognizable yet separates itself with a distinctive geometric flatness. Elaborate, brocaded elements of carpets and walls are contrasted with the delicately rendered wood-grain table that breaks the canvas, with fish, fruits, and flowers sprawled upon it. Park explores the performative and ritualistic ways in which interior settings such as the home act as a space in which private selves are created and enacted. Detaching herself from the rigidly religious, socially restrictive upbringing in Korea that her parents had enforced, Park creates an environment that grapples with the tension between the public and private self.  

    "I use mirrors, frames, windows, or fragmented bodies because I want to add subplots or narrative fragments inside my paintings, which complement the central image."
    — GaHee Park

    The elaborate table arrangement suggests human presence in a scene devoid of any distinctly human figures, except for the neon shoes that disappear into table legs. In the same way a movie or novel will denote time through a split screen or flashback, Park explores the same effect in a single image through fragmented forms and shifts in shades of color. Park explains that in these canvases she “[tries] to show with one image some of the different ways we inhabit our bodies.” In the corner, the suggestion of a window and a shadow give a glimpse into the blurred distinctions between exterior and interior spaces.


    Recalling Dutch still lifes, the fish and fruit in this scene have none of the gore and realism of the past fish market scenes. Instead, the cubist fish’s sense of temporality is merely hinted at by their gray, limp counterparts. Park plays with a sense of irony in formulating an interior space that is both stoic and suggests a certain indulgence. Animals are recurring members of Park’s interior settings. Park, in explaining why she often includes seafood such as shrimp and fish in her work, commented that she is “fascinated by the “civilized” ritual of eating and how it’s savage in a way, even perverse.” The perverse seems to sit just outside the confines of the painting, hinted at but not present in the calm table setting, toying with a physical and psychological relationship to the space itself. 



    Playing with the “naive” style of Henri Rousseau and the flat interior settings of Matisse, Park also draws inspiration from Giorgio de Chirico’s relationship to perspective and space, thinking not only about how humans interact with the space but what is the animal’s experience and outlook on that same environment. The fish, sitting on the table, becomes an active member of the scene—their interiority is palpable. 


    The first of Park’s works to come up at auction, Still Life with Fish, exemplifies Park’s delicate relationship to the private self, utilizing a single canvas to explore a multitude of perspectives and experiences.

    • Provenance

      Motel, Brooklyn
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brooklyn, Motel, GaHee Park: Kissing in the Tree, November 4, 2017–January 14, 2018


Still Life with Fish

oil on canvas
41 x 32 in. (104.1 x 81.3 cm)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $126,000

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen

Head of Sale, New Now

212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 9 March 2022