We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
It’s growing increasingly rare to see artists, particularly good ones, sketching from museum masterworks. It’s stranger still if the student paints monochromes. But Byron Kim has availed himself of the Freer’s collection of Korean ceramics, studying the rich subtleties of Koryo dynasty celadon glazes, to produce a series of canvases that explores a range of aqueous hues. The resulting work is featured in the Hirshhorn’s latest single-gallery show, “Directions—Byron Kim: Grey-Green.” What may sound like a curiosity should be quite timely. Several summers ago Art.issues.press quietly published what is proving to be one of the ’90s most influential collections of art criticism, Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon, which dared to broach the subject of beauty with an art world that had grown ashamed of visual pleasure. Despite his choice of format, Kim feels that the beauty of, say, a Rothko is a learned response, but his affinity for Koryo green has led him to suggest that “maybe some things just are beautiful.” As Kim continues his explorations, Hickey’s dragon will rear up from cultures both past and present, east and west. Meet the painter at noon at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Directions Gallery, 8th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Glenn Dixon)