Mary Corse

Seen and Unseen

Mar 29 – Apr 30, 2022
Exhibition Details:

Mary Corse
Seen and Unseen
Mar 29 – Apr 30, 2022


2/3F, 267 Itaewon-ro


Press Release


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Above: Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Yellow, Beveled), 2022. Photography by Flying Studio, Los Angeles © Mary Corse, courtesy Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Pace is pleased to present Mary Corse’s first solo exhibition at its Seoul gallery. This exhibition follows the artist’s critically acclaimed survey at the Amorepacific Museum of Art in Seoul, bringing conversations with the Korean audience initiated at the museum to a more intimate setting at the gallery.

Pace’s presentation, curated across two floors of the gallery, will feature three monumental primary color paintings by Corse, along with works from her White Inner Band series. It will also include two of the artist’s iconic lightbox installations, wirelessly powered by high-frequency Tesla coils and originally conceived in the 1960s.

Mary Corse has earned critical distinction through her unique approach to painting. Through her works, the artist maintains a dialogue with viewers about the metaphysical experience of being. Corse’s investigations in light and painting have led to a radical innovation of the medium. In the late 1960s, Corse, searching for a way to put light into her paintings, experienced an epiphanic encounter during a sunset drive on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, where she noticed the road markings were progressively illuminated by headlights as she drove along. This sparked her interest in industrial glass microspheres—a material used to enhance visibility of road signage. In 1968, Corse started applying these microspheres on the canvases of her White Light paintings. For over six decades, Corse has favored a highly tactile and empirical approach to art making, resulting in her lightboxes and large-scale geometric abstractions on canvases of various dimensions and shapes. Corse’s fluid transposition across different mediums creates a state of flux. Her practice is defined by a discursive pattern in which she often returns to earlier series and builds on them. Corse’s oeuvre retains the formal qualities of her initial experimentations in light while challenging the affective resonance of her work in each iteration.

The exhibition opens on the second floor of the gallery with three large, seven-foot square canvases featuring primary colors between thick vertical bands of black and white. Predominantly known for her monochromatic works in black and white, Corse’s interest in color is informed by the ways microspheres act as tiny prisms, refracting the light that hits the surface of the painting rather than simply reflecting it. Corse’s decades-long curiosity related to this prism effect reflects her eventual progression towards chromatic compositions. This development allowed the artist to go even “deeper into white light” and to explore pure colors. Large rectangles of red, yellow, and blue layered with microspheres, enclosed between matte-black stripes and juxtaposed by brackets of radiant white stripes with microspheres, create a sense of depth in the otherwise two-dimensional geometric composition.

On the gallery’s third level, the exhibition includes two lightboxes and four white paintings. Early in her practice, the artist’s efforts to free her artworks from the wall led her to quantum physics. With these interests in mind, Corse created a series of highly engineered lightboxes, which she referred to as “light paintings.” Suspended using monofilaments, the lightboxes are powered wirelessly by Tesla coils—high- frequency generators that transmit electromagnetic fields through walls. These works produce uncanny, spectral effects. Around the same time as her lightbox installations, Corse developed her famed White Light paintings. These geometric abstractions embody an aesthetic akin to Minimalism, though this impression is challenged by the artist’s highly gestural brushstrokes, accentuated by the microsphere infused paint. Corse built on the White Light paintings with her Inner Band series in 1996. In these works, vertical bands running down the white canvas disrupt the planar qualities of its surface. Corresponding to the viewer’s position across the exhibition space, these bands seem to appear and disappear from one’s field of perception. Bevelled edges tapering from the back of the panel toward the wall add to the illusion that these paintings are hovering in front of the wall.

Corse’s paintings exude an aura that is not confined to the planar dimension of her canvases. Rather, these works create an energy field as soon as the viewer makes perceptual contact with them. This perceptual aura is maintained and mobilized as the viewer traverses the exhibition space. The geometric, minimal qualities of each work offer a sense of objectivity juxtaposed with the subjectivity of the viewing experience, emphasizing the futility of the pursuit of an objective truth. In the Korean context, the local audience may connect Corses’s visual vocabulary to that of the Dansaekhwa movement, deepening dialogues about the artist’s practice and its intersections across time and history.


Featured Works

Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Red, Beveled), 2022, glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas, 84" × 84" × 4" (213.4 cm × 213.4 cm × 10.2 cm)
Mary Corse, Untitled (White, Black, Blue, Beveled), 2022, glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas, 84" × 84" × 4" (213.4 cm × 213.4 cm × 10.2 cm)
Mary Corse, Untitled (White Inner Band with White Sides, Beveled), 2022, glass microspheres in acrylic on canvas, 82" × 67" × 4" (208.3 cm × 170.2 cm × 10.2 cm)
Mary Corse, Untitled (Electric Light), 2021, argon, Plexiglas, high-frequency generator, light tubes, monofilament, 78" × 27" × 6" (198.1 cm × 68.6 cm × 15.2 cm)
Mary Corse, Untitled (Beams), 2021, glass microspheres on powder coated stainless steel, 84" × 40" × 1" (213.4 cm × 101.6 cm × 2.5 cm), overall 84" × 18" × 1" (213.4 cm × 45.7 cm × 2.5 cm), two beams each with 4" of interior space

Installation Views

5417.Mary DTLA Light Box 1_web.jpg

About the Artist

Mary Corse investigates materiality, abstraction, and perception through the subtly gestural and precisely geometric paintings that she has made over her fifty-year career. Corse’s art emphasizes the abstract nature of human perception, expanding beyond the visual to include subtleties of feeling and awareness.

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