Artist of the Week: Joey Korom, No Fruit Bowls Allowed

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The Doorway of Earthly Delights

In a Joey Korom canvas, the blossoming flowers and lush shrubs fill the canvases in the same way that telephones and soda cans do not.

“No, I do not paint bowls of fruit or my favorite dog,” he remarks.

Instead, he paints strictly abstract compositions, saying, “I seek to paint works that do not reference anything one may casually encounter.”

His interacting shapes and colors serve a different purpose in the collective art world and the individual’s inner world.

To describe his art he uses words like “retinal” and “optical.” His project is to excite the eye. He displays raw colors and shapes that do not carry banal, recognizable, or reductive references.

Simply put, the colors and shapes are the colors and shapes.  

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Korom’s emphasis on the eye, knowledge, and perception pushes his art in towards a philosophical realm. It is its own visual epistemology. He challenges his viewer to experience the colors and shapes without an a priori reference (literally, from prior knowledge).

Korom’s artistic process often begins with a form of automatic drawing, similar to that of artists in the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. But, the result harkens back to his own background in architecture (a discipline in which he holds a Master’s degree and has years of practical experience).

“I map out zones or areas that are to provide an inner structure and then build up layers of paint and whatever lines and impasto that I chose to employ,” he says, with his architect’s impulse.

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The automatic drawing becomes a blueprint of the subconscious – a simultaneous suggestion of both free, untethered thought and academic, architectural structure.

Borrowing adjectives from the valediction of an Arts and Sciences dean’s-lister, Korom’s art is is cerebral, creative, and disciplined.

Calling himself his “own worst critic,” Korom spends weeks on a single canvas.

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Wabash Avenue Glance 

He takes on an anthropomorphizing and autonomizing view of his canvas:

“When I begin any work I have no idea where the painting will end up. The painting has a life of its own and it tells me where it wants to go,” he says.  

He describes his paintings as an “evolution.”

Like a film score dubbing the Bildungsroman of his compositions, Korom always works to the sound of music – jazz, Classical, Baroque.

“I find these types of music to be quite inspirational and they allow me to escape into my work.”


See more of Joey Korom’s work on UGallery