December 9, 2022  - January 28, 2023

Helen J Gallery is thrilled to present Rough Growth, an exhibition featuring works by Min Baek and Annette Hur.

Baek and Hur’s paintings are sharpened like instincts. Gestating in the estuaries of abstraction and biology, they collect stains, washes, streaks, and splinters – visceral responses to shared and private pressures. Baek’s swarms of granular marks feud and cooperate, suspended in vaporous climates, while in Hur’s dense undergrowths tissue feverishly dissolves and reconstitutes into time-lapses of life cycles.

Both bodies of work contain struggles for self-preservation, drives found equally in heroic sagas and everyday life. In an O Chong Hui short story, a protagonist facing mundane hardships appeals to the Morning Star, a comforting symbol remembered from her childhood. But the celestial body and its twin, the Evening Star, both known for guiding the tragic (and mostly male) protagonists of classical and Romantic literature, had been ‘hammered into cold, rusty fragments’ over the course of time. Baek and Hur’s works anticipate the limited shelf-life of these familiar metaphors. Instead, they draw from reservoirs of memory, shaped by ‘rough growth’ — a title lifted from a painting of Baek’s — to navigate womanhood, displacement, and other biographical realities.

Even the now-defunct Morning and Evening Stars were keen to survive — their prior aliases and alter egos include medicinal plants, cherubs, medieval weapons, Babylonian goddesses, and rare elements. In truth they are not even stars but a single planet, Venus, appearing low in the sky at different times of year. Baek and Hur harness this adaptability, maneuvering their works around habitual taxonomies and parables, freely merging animal, vegetable, mineral, and personal.

Concurrently with Rough Growth, Namu Home Goods will display a collection of works by artists from South Korea in Helen J Gallery’s annex. Each piece is formed from wood -- burned, turned, carved, whittled and chiseled to reveal and document the life stages of a tree.

Parallel to paintings by artists Baek and Hur, each object complicates its assigned categories, integrating with metal, fire, and shells, making understated likenesses of fungi, cells, mollusks, thorns, and geological forms.  

Featuring works by Park Honggu, Kim Min Wook, Kim Gyu, Han Gyeol, Pak Kyoung Yoon, Eunjung Ryu, and Goya Kim.  

‘Namu’ means ‘tree’ in Korean, and Namu Home Goods strives to highlight the natural beauty of wood – with an artist’s eye – as a reflection of harmony, harvest, and peace.


Helen J Gallery is a contemporary art gallery based in Los Angeles. Specializing in Asian art and design, the gallery features vibrant programming and exhibitions geared towards embracing Asian culture and the diaspora. Our program aims to promote artists from various geographic locations and diverse backgrounds, foster cross-continental dialogue, and broaden the understanding of Asian culture in the Los Angeles area and beyond.

For press inquiries, please contact