Theresa Chong: Duino Elegies


PRESS RELEASE: Theresa Chong: Duino Elegies, Nov 20, 2021 - Feb 13, 2022

Theresa Chong: Duino Elegies
Nov 20, 2021 – Feb 13, 2022

Holly Johnson Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Theresa Chong: Duino Elegies, an exhibition of works on paper inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s, the Duino Elegies. The exhibit will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by David Brody. An open house will be held on Saturday, November 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition continues through February 13.

Chong’s delicate works on handmade paper convey a sense of rhythm and lyric beauty. The ephemerality of the paper, the meticulousness mark-making, and the clarity of line, prevents oversimplification, offering viewers a range of psychological and aesthetic experiences.

The artist recently expressed - “Rilke, his dedication to truth, his celebration of beauty in very ordinary things was my inspiration in expressing what is timelessness beauty through simplicity in choice of materials and execution. These drawings were done during a challenging time dealing with a terrible personal loss and coping with life changing experiences. Rilke’s writings and his poems were my inspiration to my work."

The Duino Elegies is a collection of ten elegies written by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) while a guest of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis (1855–1934) at Duino Castle, near Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. Acknowledged as Rilke’s finest achievement, the Duino Elegies has inspired generations of artists, providing a direct launching point as well as informing broader ruminations on humankind’s fleeting moments of contact with transient, sublime beauty.

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'

hierarchies? and even if one of them

pressed me against his heart: I would be consumed

in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing

but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,

and we are so awed because it serenely disdains

to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. 

—Rilke, “The First Elegy”

Theresa Chong was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to Fairbanks, Alaska where she spent most of her formative years painting, drawing, and practicing cello. She spent a year at Oberlin Conservatory as a cello performance major and transferred to Boston University’s School of Fine Arts receiving her BFA in painting in 1989 and her MFA in painting at the School of Visual Arts in 1991. Chong has also participated in the faculty residency program at the Anderson Ranch in Colorado in 2003 and 2005. She was awarded a grant from the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation and has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts).

Chong’s work has been included in many solo exhibitions, as well as group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose, Aspen Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Walton Arts Center.

Numerous reviews, interviews, and articles have been written about her work in publications such as The Boston Globe, Art in America, The New Yorker, Art Asia Pacific, Style Weekly, The New York Times, PowerHouse Books, Artnet Magazine, The Asian Pacific American Journal, LA Weekly, artpress, University Press of New England, Yale University Press, and Flash Art.

Her work is in the collection of: Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, Yale University Art Gallery, in New Haven, CT, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco, CA, General Dynamics, Inc. in Falls Church, VA, Pfizer, New York City, Progressive Corporation Art Collection in Mayfield Village in Ohio, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, and Werner Kramarsky’s Fifth Floor Foundation in New York City.

Holly Johnson Gallery is located at 1845 East Levee Street #100 in Dallas, Texas 75207. Gallery hours are 11:00 to 5:00, Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment. For more information, please call 214-369-0169, email, or visit 

Image: Theresa Chong, Duino Elegy # 1, 2018-2020, Copper colored pencil and gouache on Japanese handmade paper 11 ¾ x 12 inches