Commonwealth and Council

Art Basel 2024

Gala Porras-Kim, Harold Mendez, Kang Seung Lee

Images

For Art Basel 2024, Commonwealth and Council presents recent works by Gala Porras-Kim, Harold Mendez, and Kang Seung Lee. Drawing on personal, inherited, and researched histories—from colonial legacies to diasporic experiences to elided stories of queer lives—the artists’ practices are rooted in an exploration of loss and the expansive ways in which memories, relationships, and conditions might be recovered and shared. These three artists exemplify how our larger program of forty artists champions the work of women, queer, POC, and our allies to build counter-histories that reflect our individual and collective realities.


Following Kang Seung Lee’s participation in Made in L.A. 2023 at the Hammer Museum and the Korea Artist Prize exhibition, we will present works created through archival research, interviews, and collaborations. Drawings on parchment center under-recognized narratives through the lives and works of queer predecessors from diverse geographies, including Goh Choo San, Tseng Kwong Chi, Martin Wong, Joon-soo Oh, José Leonilson, and others who have died from the AIDS epidemic. Sambe cloths embroidered with antique 24-karat gold thread connote both mourning and reverence, honoring and preserving the memory of what has been lost in the aftermath of immense tragedy. This body of work continues Lee’s interest in kinship and intimacy as forms of care, intersecting intergenerational memory, transnational inheritance, and cross-temporal queer legacy. Lee’s presentation at Art Basel is concurrent with his inclusion in the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Harold Mendez similarly reflects on familial memories, personal stories, and archival materials to explore the historical narratives that have shaped the Americas. With a sensibility stemming from his longtime practice in photography, Mendez alters and arranges his found and everyday materials with poetic precision, intertwining cultural references—such as feathers, flowers, a carpenter’s ruler, and homemade arepas—to unearth the vestiges of memory. His influences include both present-day sources and ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, nodding to the artist’s identity as an American of Mexican and Colombian heritage. However, Mendez is not interested so much in particular narratives but more on how these histories have left traces on our bodies, psyche, and the images and objects with which we live. Mendez’s inclusion follows his solo exhibition at the Wexner Center.


Gala Porras-Kim’s recent body of work debuted at the Korea Artist Prize exhibition last fall. Continuing her inquiry on what we know about cultural artifacts and sites, Porras-Kim takes on as subject matter the Dolmen tombs found in Gochang region of Korea. This triptych on paper presents different takes on the Dolmen: a photorealistic graphite representation of the tombs’ contemporary form, including its UNESCO cataloging details; a quasi-abstract drawing in color pencil rendering an overgrowth of moss and grass, nature’s intervention on the site; and an all-over graphite drawing proposing a speculative landscape imperceptible to the human eye, or a view from inside the grave. In presenting these varying views, and thus interpretations, of the Dolmens, Porras-Kim proffers a hermeneutic tool to consider and discover new understandings while underscoring how much we cannot ascertain and may never know about our cultural heritage, despite all our advancements in research methodologies and technological tools.


Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984, Bogotá; lives and works in Los Angeles and London) received an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (2012), an MFA from California Institute of the Arts (2009), and BA from University of California, Los Angeles (2007). Solo exhibitions have been held at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2024); Pitzer College Art Galleries (2024); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2023); Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul (2023); Fowler Museum, Los Angeles (2023); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla (2023); Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2023); Gasworks, London (2022); Amant, Brooklyn (2022); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2019). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Sprüth Magers, Berlin (2024); Liverpool Biennial (2023); 34th Bienal de São Paulo (2021); 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2021, 2017); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021, 2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019, 2016); PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2019); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019, 2017); Para Site, Hong Kong (2019); and Seoul Museum of Art (2017). Porras-Kim is a recipient of Gold Prize (2023), Art Matters Foundation Grant (2019), Artadia Los Angeles Award (2017), Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2016), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2015), Creative Capital Grant for Visual Artists (2015), and California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2013). Porras-Kim has participated in residencies at Getty Research Institute (2021-22); Delfina Foundation, London (2021); Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Cambridge (2020); La Tallera, Proyecto Siqueiros, Cuernavaca (2019); Fundación Casa Wabi, Oaxaca (2016); and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2010).


Porras-Kim’s work is in the collections of Brooklyn Museum; Cc Foundation, Shanghai; Dallas Museum of Art; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; Fonds régional d'art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Kadist Art Foundation; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Seoul Museum of Art; University of Richmond Museums; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Harold Mendez (b. 1977, Chicago; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from University of Illinois, Chicago (2007) and a BA from Columbia College, Chicago (2000). Solo and two-person exhibitions have been held at PATRON, Chicago (2024; 2019, 2016); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2023); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2023); Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2021); Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Richmond (2021); Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2020); Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago (2020); Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston (2019); and Project Row Houses, Houston (2016). Selected group exhibitions have been held at John Michael Kohler Arts Center (2024); Walker Art Center (2023); Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2022); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021); Josh Lilley Gallery, London (2021); Bridge Projects, Los Angeles (2020); Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (2019); Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston (2019); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2017); LAXART (2017); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha (2017); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017); Queens Museum (2017); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2017); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015); and The Drawing Center, New York (2015). Mendez is a recipient of John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2024), Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship (2014) and Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship (2013). Mendez has participated in residencies at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan (2024, 2021); Light Work, Syracuse (2020); Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque (2018); Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva (2016); Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin (2014, 2012); Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2014); Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2013); The Lighthouse Works, Fishers Island (2013); and Ox-Bow, Saugatuck (2001).


Mendez’s work is in the collection of Chicago Transit Authority; Colección Diéresis, Guadalajara; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; J.P. Morgan Chase Collection; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Studio Museum in Harlem; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978, Seoul; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts (2015). Solo exhibitions have been held at Museu de arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (forthcoming); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2023); Vincent Price Art Museum, Monterey Park (2023); Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (2021); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2021, 2017, 2016); Hapjungjigu, Seoul (2019); One and J. Gallery, Seoul (2018); and Artpace San Antonio (2017). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Cantor Arts Center (forthcoming); Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California Davis (forthcoming); 60th Venice Biennale (2024); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung, Seoul (2024); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2023); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2023); documenta 15, Kassel (2022); Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena (2022); New Museum Triennial, New York (2021); 13th Gwangju Biennial (2021); MASS MoCA, North Adams (2021); Asia Culture Center, Gwangju (2020); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2020); Daelim Museum, Seoul (2020); and LAXART (2017). Lee is a recipient of Angeles Art Fund Artadia Award (2023), California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2019), and Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2018). Lee has participated in residencies at MacDowell (2022); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2020); Artpace San Antonio (2017); and Pitzer College, Claremont (2015).


Lee’s work is in the collections of Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Sunpride Foundation, Hong Kong.