Alex Paik

Brooklyn, New York, USA

My first serious introduction to art was through classical music, and the qualities and architecture of music stayed with me as I made the transition to visual art. I’ve always been attracted to the geometry of music and the way that the architecture of music feels simultaneously tightly composed and loosely improvised.

Each piece focuses on one shape or unit as its subject that is then repeated in different configurations as the piece grows. The way that the units layer and form other compound shapes mimics the way a fugue’s subject is transposed, inverted, and folded into itself. I use repetition not so much as a compositional device, but more as a way to explore and develop the possibilities of the unit. Or, to borrow Glenn Gould’s description of Bach’s late fugues, to “give the impression of an infinitely expanding universe.”

I’m also interested in the idea of variability between each hanging of an artwork. The “Modular Wall Installations” are improvised onsite each time they are shown according to the size of the wall. Each exhibition becomes a different performance of the same piece, further adding to the ephemeral and temporal quality of my work. 

In my work, geometry has always been a way to give structure to color—a way to provide an architectural scaffold from which color relationships and the work’s final form are generated.

Ultimately, the musical quality that I’m attracted to most is grace—the way that the labor behind a work is hidden behind an appearance of effortlessness and elegance. My work is constructed and “composed” in such a way as to feel like it just appeared, almost out of thin air, and could just as quickly disappear.

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