John Chae’s New Levels, Video-Games and Otherwise

New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly.  While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games.  Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists.  Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents.  Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.