de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Evri Kwong: Just Pretend Everything is OK

September 27 – December 13, 2008

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I want people to come away with something that gets under their skin—something that will get them thinking. Things are happening in our society that are unacceptable. The big problem is that they keep on happening.
— Evri Kwong

In his boldly confrontational paintings and prints, San Francisco-based artist Evri Kwong explores a novel—and socially engaged—form of narrative painting. Featuring stories culled from current events and interpreted in all their vivid brutality, his works confront our culture’s deliberate ignorance. National issues such as hypocrisy, consumerism, racism, sexual abuse, religious intolerance, and violence, all provide fodder for his expressive vision.

Kwong’s works represent masterful combinations of painting and drawing, unified by grid-like compositions. In the sketches—rendered in permanent Sharpie ink—Howdy-Doody-style wooden puppets interact, fight, and brutalize each other. Kwong’s vividly colored, painted landscapes provide a moment of respite from the figurative struggles. But the juxtaposition of painted and sketched elements highlights the stark difference between our idealized visions of our communities, and the darker reality lying underneath. His grid-like compositional structure recalls the format of comic books or television—and makes reference to the role mass media plays in our consumption of these stories. This mid-career survey exhibition will feature a selection of Evri Kwong’s paintings and works on paper produced over the past several years.

Evri Kwong received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, Dwight Hackett Projects in Santa Fe, Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto, the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, and Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco and group exhibitions at the George Krevsky Gallery, San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the Alternative Museum in New York, the Asian American Art Centre in New York, Alleged Gallery in New York, the Masur Museum of Art in Louisiana, Budapest Gallery in Hungary, Gallery Godo in Seoul, Korea, Southern Exposure in San Francisco, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Heidi Cho Gallery in New York, the San Jose Museum of Art (traveled to the American University Museum), and the Richmond Art Center. Kwong is Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at California State University, Sacramento. He is represented by Dwight Hackett Projects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto, and Gallery Godo in Korea.

After its premiere at the de Saisset Museum, this exhibition will travel to the American University Museum, Washington, D.C., where it will be on view from January 24 - March 22, 2009.

In conjunction with Just Pretend Everything is OK at the de Saisset Museum, Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto will feature an exhibition of recent Evri Kwong work from October 15 - November 19, 2008.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education. Support for the catalogue has been provided by the Lannan Foundation. Additional support for the catalogue has been generously provided by the Lannan Foundation, Eleanor Coppola, Jenifer and Dwight Hackett, Paula Kirkeby, Linda B. Lynch, Roselyne Chroman Swig, Gail Williams Young, and Kimberly Young.

Just Pretend Everything is OK is accompanied by a full color catalogue featuring an essay by Diane Karp. The publication is available for $10 for nonmembers and $9 for members of the de Saisset Museum.

Please note that this exhibition contains mature content (including intense violence and sexuality) and therefore may not be appropriate for all viewers.

Images, Left to Right Evri Kwong, Big Red, 2005, oil and Sharpie permanent marker on canvas, 84 x 96 in., Collection of the San Jose Museum of Art. Evri Kwong, Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe?, 2001, oil and Sharpie permanent marker on canvas, 72 x 108 in., courtesy of the artist and Dwight Hackett Projects