GaHee Park - New Now New York Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • GaHee Park’s A Cat Next Door is a large-scale take on contemporary genre painting, depicting intimacy from far away. A trademark of the artist’s style, A Cat Next Door is the artist's second painting to come to auction. The present work was featured in Park’s second solo exhibition in New York, along with four other paintings of familiar scenes. The themes of sexuality, intimacy and appreciation for domestic life are central to this work and translate throughout the artist’s practice.


    Growing up in a conservative household in South Korea and eventually moving to the United States in her early twenties, GaHee Park understands painting as a key method of unpacking the past and exploring themes that were seemingly off-limits growing up. Park is “drawn to art as a way to explore subjects that were forbidden or taboo, like sexuality, nudity, grotesque or weird images,” and A Cat Next Door depicts each of these elements.i The disjointed patterning of the rug, tile and brick elements in the lower half of the composition harmonize with the disembodied limbs, both in the foreground and background. It quickly becomes apparent to the viewer that each leg belongs to a different human, and that what lies behind the window essentially mirrors what is in front of it. There are two pairs of humans, two cats, and one window, all of which share a heightened sense of intimacy and implied understanding of one another.

    "I was an observer, and as an Asian woman in America a lot of people didn’t care about my vision; I felt invisible. In the very beginning of my American life I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I didn’t want to develop my social skills, so it was always good to have an animal next to me. I began to relate to that kind of feeling of looking at people and observing them."
    —GaHee Park

    Henri Rousseau, Le rêve, 1910. Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY 


    Combining elements of post-impressionistic color with the Rückenfigur technique, the present work is firmly rooted in the history of painting and is reminiscent of Rousseau’s Le rêve. Popularized by European artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and Johannes Vermeer, the Rückenfigur method of portraying the subject from behind triggers a paradoxical sense of distant intimacy for the viewer. GaHee Park’s painting practice is heavily influenced by this balance between the seen and unseen: “a sense of possibility [is] preserved, allowing multiple perspectives to emerge and engage viewer’s impulses to devise their own stories. All energy is potential.ii" Equally apparent in Rousseau’s Le rêve, the warm tonality of the colors in A Cat Next Door balance with the composition’s lack of immediate intimacy. Much like the cat in Park’s work, we are looking with them instead of at them, all in a warm, welcoming and playful atmosphere.


    i GaHee Park, "Eroticism in A New Light,“ Metal Magazine, online.
    ii Lina Kavaliunas, “GaHee Park: MOTEL,” Artforum, vol. 56, no. 5, January 2018, p. 217. 

    • 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


A Cat Next Door

oil on canvas
60 x 48 3/8 in. (152.4 x 122.9 cm)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $88,200

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2022