Kira Nam Greene, Room of Her Own (Merritt), 2023, Oil, gouache, watercolor, colored pencil, and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 50 in.

September 19 – October 19, 2023

Kira Nam Greene: A Room of Her Own

Contemporary Art Matters is pleased to present Kira Nam Greene: A Room of Her Own. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Greene combines traditional, hyperrealist portraiture with design elements such as exposed under-drawing, hard edge abstraction, and thick impasto while drawing inspiration from the Pattern and Decoration movement. Her unique technique “celebrates the imagination’s role in shaping a pluralistic and malleable vision which [she] hopes invites the viewer in for extended, sensual encounters with the paintings where diverse modes of representation coexist.” The exhibition will be on view from September 19th through October 19th, 2023, including an opening reception with the artist on September 19th, 5-7pm.

In the exhibition

Installation views

With a PhD from Stanford University in Political Science with a specialization of the Political Economy in East Asia, Greene’s extensive background in the academic and business worlds has informed her art in every detail of her practice. From her portrait sitters to her material, all aspects of Greene’s paintings include researched, intentional details that tie to larger themes of feminism and cultural exchange. “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.”

Inspired by the classic novel by Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, Greene looks into each of her subjects, all greatly accomplished women, and the spaces in which they create. With these subjects, Greene depicts “the figure in a meticulous realist style at the center of the composition within a confined but shifting
space to create a metaphorical or symbolic ‘room,’ which serves as an allegory for the precarious terrain of women’s creative autonomy.”

In A Room of Her Own (Merritt), Greene paints the writer Merrit Tierce seated at the balcony of the BAU Summer Artist Residency in Cassis, France, where they met last summer. Surrounded by physical manifestations of her beliefs, including a sign that reads Keep Abortion Legal, Merrit focuses with intense concentration, conveying her powerful mind. The colorful patterns that layer in and out of view draw upon the Pattern and Decoration movement that Greene is continuously inspired by.

In Room of My Own (Mudang), Greene depicts herself as a traditional Korean shaman. Surrounded by vases of flowers and fruits, with paintbrush and camera in hand, Greene stares back at the viewer with a look of strong focus. Her self-portrait offers a look into Greene’s practice, bringing the viewer into her studio space.

Greene’s work has exhibited internationally, and in 2022 she was a finalist for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Award. Greene received the honor of showing her work with 46 other artists in the traveling show that focused on modern artists’ challenges to traditional definitions of portraiture. In 2022, Greene completed the BAU Summer Artist Residency in Cassis, France.