New waves, Korea
|아티스트||김건주, 오상택, 홍성철|
|전시명||New waves, Korea|
New Waves, Korea
Hwa-Young Anna Yoo, Director of Art Angel Company
Each country or city has its own character and image. For example, New York is well-known for the term, ‘melting pot,’ which implies a great diversity of people in one place. Paris has the image of being romantic, sophisticated, and artistic. Hong Kong could be considered a shopper’s cup of tea.
What about Korea? In the past, Korea has been called the land of the morning clam by foreigners who saw Korea as a quiet and exotic Asian country that kept itself away from the rest of world. Surprisingly, the Korean Peninsula, which is surrounded by China, Russia and Japan, has been an anchor for cultural communication in the 21st century. The new Korean cultural waves, also known as “Hallyu,” have become a gateway where aesthetic and philosophy are exchanged.
However, cultural communication isn’t an easy task. These days, we regard social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as revolutions that can transform the world, yet they have obvious limitations in terms of understanding different cultures, and are not a substitute for real communication. So, how can we exchange our thoughts with others? What would be the best way to understand different cultures? We know that it cannot be done by simply just watching a drama or learning a language. We need to rethink our concept of cultural communication and make a real effort to embrace the cultural diversity that makes the world better.
The exhibition, New Waves, Korea can be understood in the context of how the arts speak about the uniqueness of each culture and enable people to understand their way of life. New Waves, Korea features works of three significant contemporary Korean artists: Sang-Taek Oh, Sung-Chul Hong, and Kunju Kim. Each of the artists’ works bring out fundamental issues of modern society—such as desire, isolation, and re-contextualization—through different mediums (e.g., materials), photography (Sang-Taek Oh), mixed media installations (Sung-Chul Hong), and sculptures (Kunju Kim).
Interestingly, the three featured Korean artists have each experienced studying and living abroad in western culture after graduating from college in Korea. This common experience makes me imagine that they might take more effort to adapt to different cultures and experiencing new environments. I think that these experiences have enabled them to find a unique way of expressing their philosophy and identity. In their art works, we can find three common traits: their origin, universal issues, and innovative work process.
Asian art has had more tendencies to appreciate the beauty of empty space throughout history. In the (un)Necessaries series, Sang-Taek Oh has intentionally created surrealistic space with the outline of clothing on canvas. The relationship between the outline of the clothes and the black background in each photograph may appear as an oriental painting to viewers.
Art works reflect an artist’s identity, philosophy, experience and culture. Through Sang-Taek’s way of approaching the concept, viewers can be attracted to the oriental beauty and rethink inspired by his concept, which is indispensable human desire.
In 2006, after a long research, Sung-Chul Hong, who mastered a traditional sculpture and integrated media for his B.F.A and M.F.A, created an innovative work process for the series, String_mirror. Sung-Chul takes a picture of parts or the whole human body and prints them out on strings. He then reconstructs layers of strings on different levels and transforms one-dimensional images on the photo into stereoscopic figures. Sung-Chul speaks about the originality through the series of String_mirror.
The development of high technology has brought many advantages to human life. Most electronic systems have converted from analog to digital, and people have already gotten used to living with it. The String_mirror series reviews the reality that has been distorted by mass media, and presents a deep longing for analog sensibility, which is contrasted with high technology.
Kunju Kim’s works are about natural phenomenon in human life. We can find all kinds of things, such as humans, objects, incidents and certain forms, in his works. They are all connected through certain combinations and their relations are changing every moment unpredictably, like new myths.
In Myths, outlines overlap to form a shape on square, monochromatic canvases. Myths speak of Kim’s pursuit of painterly traditions and conventions that, through bas-relief, blurs the lines between sculpture and painting. It is very relevant to our life, which are unpredictable and uncontrollable.
I hope that New Waves, Korea can be a bridge for Korean cultural understanding where viewers can enjoy new visual experiences such as craftsmanship, analog feeling, and use of innovative materials from the exhibition while also better understanding the philosophy and identity of each artist who tries to see the world with an open-mind and as a person who was born and raised in Korea.
Art does not follow the trend, but rather, leads culture. Art expresses the way of thinking and can make people have true communication with others.