From Seed to Blossom: Soey Milk’s “Inflorescence” at Corey Helford Gallery

in·flo·res·cence   \ ˌin-flə-ˈre-sᵊn(t)s \

a : the mode of development and arrangement of flowers on an axis
b : a floral axis with its appendages;  also: a flower cluster
c : the budding and unfolding of blossoms: flowering<

Korean-born, California-based artist Soey Milk has made a name for herself by mining the murky and mysterious boundaries between art and life, drawing from her own multi-faceted experiences to create ethereal and evocative paintings that touch upon themes of evolving, maturing, and blossoming, tenderly narrating the quietly potent story of a woman in bloom. Her latest solo exhibit, “Inflorescence,” which opens September 8th at Corey Helford Gallery, includes over 20 new paintings and drawings which serve as an abstract visual autobiography of her life, each chapter summoning different detail-drenched memories, entire eras of her life unfurling one after another like flower petals in the morning sun. Milk’s meticulously detailed and lushly visceral portraits blush and bloom with saturated color and flowing movement, yet at their calm center is women in various stages of growing, changing, and evolving, encapsulating the strange complexity and vulnerable uncertainty of becoming.

The portraits in “Inflorescence” are of Milk’s friends, yet each embodies a significant aspect of the unfolding of Milk’s own life, the exhibit functioning as a bouquet of lush and lingering memories, each as alluringly voyeuristic as it is dreamlike and abstract. The sharp focus and realism of the portrait subject is startling when juxtaposed against the delirious chaos of the background, dripping with color and swirling with feverish feeling.

They feel like a both a multi-hued celebration and a painstakingly accurate self-reflection of the many seasons of life that slip past us: a slew of small details that imprint upon your mind and stay with you, clear and crystallized, amidst a caterwauling cacophony of feral emotions and hazy half-baked memories. This is the strange and surreal messiness of becoming. This is how you let go of who you were in order to allow yourself to stretch and grow into someone else. This is how you unfold. This is how you bloom.

In the spirit of moving from seed to blossom, “Inflorescence” will also include Milk’s initial drawings, sketches, and ideas, showcasing the metaphorical seedlings that later bloomed into her striking paintings. Milk also continues her experimental streak by displaying paintings with objects embedded within them, sealed between layers of paint, such as a feather from her chicken or the wallpaper from the room in which she painted in, which seems to gently remind us to allow where we’ve been and what we’ve been through to remain a part of us, buried deep in our muscle memory, even as we move past it, arms outstretched towards the sun.

“Inflorescence” opens Saturday, September 8th with an opening reception from 7pm – 11pm. The exhibit will be on view through October 13 at Corey Helford Gallery (571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033).

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