Kira Nam Greene Bio

In my painting practice, I value the integrity of the history and craft of painting. I also intend to create work that engages with the contemporary developments and political and social relevancy of visual art. My painting series, Women in Possession of Good Fortune, continue and deepen this interrogation. This series expands the ethnographic tendency of my practice to portraiture from the still-life. The title of the series refers to the opening lines of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice and alludes to both the persistence of sexist assumptions and the achievements made by women from different races, ages, and sexual orientations. The subjects are women in creative fields, posed to echo historical figurative paintings. Interviews and research into their working lives generate ways for me to render pictorially—through allusions, icons, objects, patterns, and symbols—the rich personhood of my subjects.

I depict the human figure in a meticulous realist style at the center of the compositions, surrounding them with design elements from widely dispersed cultures as a testament to the deep history of transnational cultural exchanges. Imbuing the feminist example of the Pattern and Decoration Movement with recurring, multicultural motifs, I create heterogeneous, colorful, and detailed paintings using varied techniques, exposed under-drawings, hyperrealism, hard-edged abstract elements, and thick impasto in varied media. The combination of representational fidelity and non-traditional geometries in my paintings celebrates the imagination’s role in creating a plural and malleable reality. This defamiliarized space invites extended, sensual encounters with the paintings, where diverse representational modes coexist, and where the body appears as if seen for the first time. With the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent hate crimes against AAPI persons, I started focusing on subjects in AAPI communities in solidarity.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Kira Nam Greene lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and her BA in International Relations from Seoul National University. Prior to becoming an artist, Greene earned her Ph. D in Political Science from Stanford University, specializing in Political Economy in East Asia, and taught a wide variety of subject matters in Political Economy both in academic and business settings.

Greene has shown her work widely at venues such as the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Sheldon Museum of Art, Muskegon Museum of Art, Reading Public Art Museum, Brown University, Salisbury University, City College of New York (CUNY), Wave Hill, Bronx Museum of Art, Noyes Museum, Contemporary Art Matters, Lyons Wier Gallery, Accola Griefen Gallery, Gallery Korea, A.I.R. Gallery, and Jane Lombard Gallery. She is a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Award 2022 and currently showing her painting at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In 2019, Greene was a finalist for the inaugural Bennett Prize for female figurative painters. She was a Stewart MacMillan Chair in Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 2017-18 and was a part-time faculty of the Fine Arts MFA Program at Parsons School of Design. Her work has been covered in publications such as American Art Collector, Fine Arts Connoisseur, Smithsonian Magazine, Visual Arts Journal, Artnet News, Art F City, BmoreArt, Wallpaper, W Magazine, Lincoln Star Journal, Art21 Blog, Hyphen Magazine, The Korea Daily, and New York Art Beat.

You can view here most recent interview with Contemporary Art Matters here.