My new painting series, Tribal Council, develops the ethnographic tendency of my practice that I previously explored in still-life compositions, and am now extending to portraiture. 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 exactingly detailed paintings using varied techniques—exposed under-drawings, hyperrealism, hard-edged abstract elements, thick impasto—and media including oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil. As the realistically rendered subjects in the portraits bring into focus these intersecting design elements, the whole composition pairs three-dimensional figurative art with densely layered flat patterns. 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.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Kira Nam Greene lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, her MFA from 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 wide variety of subject matters in Political Economy both in academic and business settings.
Greene has shown her work widely at venues such as Sheldon Museum of Art, Muskegon Museum of Art, Brown University, Salisbury University, Wave Hill, Bronx Museum of Art, Noyes Museum, Accola Griefen Gallery, Lodge Gallery, Kiechel Fine Art, A.I.R. Gallery and Jane Lombard Gallery. Her work has been covered in publications such as Artnet News, Art F City, Wallpaper, W Magazine, Lincoln Star Journal, Art21 Blog, Hyphen Magazine, The Korea Daily and New York Art Beat. In 2019, Greene is a finalist for the inaugural Bennett Prize. She will have her first solo exhibition with Lyons Wier Gallery in New York in November, 2019. Greene was a Stewart MacMillan Chair in Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 2017-28 and is currently a part-time faculty of Fine Arts MFA Program at Parsons School of Design.