Historically in Asia, a sword has been associated with human desire, being an auspicious object belonging to an aristocrat. Throughout history, it has become an icon of power. During the past 10 years, I have endeavored to analyze the historical context of the sword in human civilization. My works have been efforts to reveal the futility of human desires through the manifestation of swords in various visual vocabularies.
I started my process of converting the materiality of the sword into historical context by using ceram- ics. Ceramics was an ideal vehicle for formal expressions and practices, however I faced the limitation in transcending the text and context of a sword using this medium. I then turned to salt, which charmed me with its visual manifestation of its sensual materiality. The symbolic aspect also fascinated me; salt has symbolic images of wealth, power, religiousness, and life that are parallel to the nature of human desires.
After ten year of using the sword as a subject matter, I search for new ideas and changes. I am now pursuing formal changes and metaphorical expressions using the form of flowers. To me, a flower as a sexual organ means the origin of a life and is a core of desires hidden under its brilliance. In that aspect, a flower and sword are sharing a similar nature within them. I can therefore describe that the conceptual aspect of my most recent work is similar to that of my past works.
In order to avoid conventional images that using representational objects might cause and hence compromise metaphorical expressions within them, I used my imagination to create the forms. In other words, my new work is a variation of expressing human desires and their futility, borrowing forms of imaginary flowers.
AN, MYUNG NAM
Myung Nam An is a ceramic artist, born in South Korean, based in London for 12years and relocat- ed to Miami recently.
Myung Nam Anʼs incredibly intricate and detailed ceramics are beautiful, bright, colourful, exciting, funky & very desirable.
“Since 2005 Living in London, the fact that I am alone is a throbbing job, a gigantic freedom, a shock to a strange culture, and a sense of heterogeneity from the barrier of language, these emotions in my work are symbolized by universal symbols such as 'Eye' And these stories tell someone who creates another story to tell their story. The brilliant colour of my work is reflected in the visual charac- teristics of contemporary culture by using diverse and colourful colours in London's diverse races and cultures and the world's cultural capital where more than 300 languages are used. Which is a some- what conservative challenge to the ceramic arts here”.
My work is the human being and their everyday life. I find ceramic to be the most suitable material to express my ideas. The characteristics and limitations of the materials are a fundamental issue for me and my process is one based on analysis and experience. I approach my work in both a formal and aesthetic way. That does not mean that emotionality and sensuality are set aside – on the contrary. These pieces evoke cool expression with sensitive undertones and there by join an abstract, new formalistic movement in contemporary art.
Why Eyes? I use my work to express my emotions without using single world. As human eye, everyone's eye is slightly different and special in its own way. Looking at person's eye you may understand more about people' personality or life or love.
"It has always been my goal as an artist to make work that speaks to the viewer on a deeper level and provokes thought."
KOH, SANG WOO
Recognizable by the blue tone photograph that captures his subject using negative film, Koh Sang Woo is a visual artist who consolidates photography, performance, and painting. His work is a result of dialogue with the model. The Decoration of their bodies and hear with flowers and butterflies and painting them with brush strokes is a part of performance and preparation for photographing. His subjects are completely revealed, represented in their essential purity. Change of the color and the light in exposure gives them intense visual and emotional charge. Woo gives us the opportunity to see the world in reverse, to reconsider the way in which we look at others and understand ourselves.
CHUN, KWANG YOUNG
KWANG YOUNG CHUN
B.F.A., Hong-Ik University, Korea M.F.A., Philadelphia College of Art
[ AGGREGATIONS ] Information : A Long Journey of Confrontation, Conflict, Union, And Its End. My twenties were all about America. The thin, young man from a distant country as suddenly a social, ideological alien in a new world. The American dream of the 1960s promised success and wealth, but the reality was that innocent youths were dying on battlefields. This was a country where democracy had flourished, but young people were being doomed to an unfair death. Some were dragged into a meaningless war that ended their lives in a faraway jungle, while others absorbed themselves in antiwar campaigns and marijuana, crossing the boundary between freedom and dangerous self-indul- gence. Yet it was also obvious that human life was becoming materially richer. I remember that the early 1970s was full of rosy predictions that by the new millennium, we would conquer disease and create a new settlement on another planet within the solar system. It was almost as if we could rebuild the Garden of Eden with our own hands. Nevertheless, it somehow also seemed that society and even humankind were becoming more and more incomplete. Automobiles filled the streets and every day saw enormous supermarkets stacked anew with goods and groceries; society was ceaselessly encour- aging us to consume, and we—spending tremendous amounts of energy—were always exhausted. I could see addicts and homeless people lying around in broad daylight while also perceiving invisible class distinctions and human relationships dependent on financial status and social position. In all this, my humanistic views and ideas based on Asian traditional values were no more than a useless outcry of a young alien who couldnʼt adapt himself to the capitalism, materialism, and scientism of the new world that called itself America. The media reported the constant conflicts between rich and poor, black and white, capitalists and communists, victims and suspects, claiming that theworld we lived in was becoming more and more chaotic.
The artist is a witness to his times and the canary in the coal mine. After the Second World War, Abstract Expressionism began to bloom in America. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence, putting New York City at the center of the art world. Of course, it soon was followed by Pop Art, Fluxus, conceptual art, and Minimalism, but I was instantly attracted to Abstract Expressionism, which seemed to be the best way to freely express my surprise—and my sadness—at witnessing the huge gap between ideals and reality. The juxtaposition of conflicting colors, tabooed in traditional painting, was encouraged; the brushstrokes themselves proudly emerged on the surface, creating a tension between abstract forms, colors, and the canvas that burst out from the artwork, leaving multicolored lumps and wild brushstrokes like the tails of comets. Until then, I had been used to traditional art classes that forced one to have oneʼs artistic imagination censored by oneʼs teacher, but I soon accepted the freedom of Abstract Expressionism. I wanted to express the conflicts that were happening between people and between the past, present, and future, though subtly hidden behind a dangerous harmony. Abstract Expressionism was the answer to my problem. However, when I started making artwork based on this, I could hear the voice inside my head saying, “This is not wholly yours. Are you not doing it just because others are doing it?” My peers and young gallerists often praised my work, but the voice inside my head became gradually louder until it became hard to ignore. Abstract Expressionism worked best to express the chaos and struggles of the world I lived in, but my artistic fastidiousness undermined my devotion to this art form. Soon I began to feel a sense of shame that I might remain a second-rate artist, as my artistic philosophy and method were borrowed ones. The image of cursed artists endlessly painting second-rate imitations in a gloomy studio started to haunt and devastate me. Why canʼt I just compromise with reality? How can I find the best way to express my art? How can I, as a Korean artist, create my own original style? Even after I returned to Korea, I didnʼt stop asking these questions of myself. I carried on with my artistic practice, but as long as I couldnʼt find the answers to my questions, the atelier was not a happy place for me. On a late spring day in 1995, the room was filled with warm sunlight coming through the window. Having been sick with a nasty cold for a few days, I sat in the living room and stared at the glass of water and a package of pills that my dear wife had brought for me. I felt the pills through the thin paper package. Suddenly, an old memory struck my mind. When I was young, I was a sickly child, and my mother used to take me to a doctor in the neighborhood who practiced traditional Chinese medicine. I never liked the place because of the strong odor from the infusions and the threatening sight of the acupuncture needles. While the doctor felt my pulse, my mother held my hand, and I fixed my eyes upon the ceiling, hearing the doctor muttering something to himself. I remember that numer- ous packages of mulberry paper were hanging from the ceiling, each with a name card of the medicine that was wrapped inside. The image of my old memories of the drugstore lasted in my head for a while. I always had a desire to communicate my art through a Korean sentiment, and the image of the medicine packages hanging from the ceiling became a new theme in my art since that memora- ble afternoon. Every piece of information is the end product of a struggle for hegemony, as well as an accumulation of human experience. Each hypothesis is in ceaseless conflict with another, until one of them finally becomes accepted as fact, as new knowledge. While this process is sometimes attained in a peaceful way through debates and publications, it also happens in the shape of physical conflicts like wars led by the governing class. Ghengis Khanʼs Mongolia provides an example of this, as did the Crusadersʼ wars, which brought great changes to the ideas and lifestyles of the neighboring countries. Even now, in Africa, the only method of distinguishing one tribe from another is whether or not each tribe dresses alike or speaks the same language. According to the Bible, at the beginning of the world, when God tried to break up the people who were building the tower of Babel, he just made their languages different from one another. As soon as communication was disrupted by different language systems, people who at one time shared the same information started to fight each other. The paper bags of Chinese medicine become information the moment the doctor writes their names on them. Each medicine has a different use; a healing medicine to one patient can be a deadly poison to another. The package I fumbled with on that afternoon is a type of information, a product of human knowledge and experience. The tablets of medicine are the refined accumulation of numerous experiments with virus and bacteria, and thanks to the fact that this information was available to me, I could shake off my cold in a few days, while my unfortunate ancestorsʼ lives had to depend on luck.
My recent works that began from the image of packages of Chinese medicine were the essential expression and private documentation of my desire to regard these triangular cells as the minimal unit of information. Each triangular package, covered with Korean and Chinese characters, was made from old documents of differing ages and ideas. The documents that were the only means of transfer- ring information at those times were reborn in my hands as minimal units containing different informa- tion. The writings of Eastern philosophy are randomly reconstructed along the boundaries where folded pages meet. Sometimes the accidental combination of words are of old geographical names or ancient peopleʼs names, but sometimes the words assume a totally new meaning—a page from the Analects of Confucius, for example, can attain an entirely different meaning that is opposed to the original idea of the book. When you look at the rings of a tree stump, you can see the traces of the treeʼs struggles against harsh weather conditions—The rings show whether there has been a severe winter or a dangerous fire. The tree itself is one of many composing a forest, but it must continually compete with the other trees for sunlight and water and fight the whims of nature. All members of natureʼs “system” have their own inherent nature and appearance, and we try to decipher information about time and history from them with the help of our senses. Each human being starts from a basic unit of information: the egg and the sperm. While our appearance and nature transform through numerous cell divisions, these factors depend on the original information within the egg cell and sperm cell—information that is a product of the long-held struggle by our ancestors against nature, society, and environment. To me, the triangular pieces wrapped in mulberry paper are basic units of information, the basic cells of a life that only exists in art, as well as in individual social events or historical facts. By attaching these pieces one by one to a two-dimensional surface, I wanted to express how basic units of informa- tion can both create harmony and conflict. This became an important milestone in my long artistic journey to express the troubles of a modern man who is driven to a devastated life by materialism, endless competition, conflict, and destruction. After almost twenty years, I was now able to communi- cate with my own gestures and words. A wound is a trace of the battle between bacteria invading your body and the white blood corpuscles defending it. Simple wounds leave small scars (the empirical documents of the disease), but more complex diseases like measles, which calls for a harsh struggle against the disease, leave large scars that sometimes last for a lifetime. Individuals have trivial arguments, sometimes accompanied by physical violence. Between nations, when the nonviolent form of diplomacy becomes useless, physical wars follow. As previously stated, I tried to transform my canvas and the mulberry paper pieces into a window that reflects the history of human life. The scars of our bodies, the conflicts between members of society, the wars between nations, humansʼ exploitation of nature and natureʼs suffering—all of these units and the natural, social groups they constitute are dynamically in conflict with one another, and I wanted to chronologically document the force and direction of their energy. Just as two nations in war transform their borders, leaving scars on their neighboring countries, or just as billions of years ago continents collided, creating deep oceans and high mountains, in my small universe, the small units of mulberry paper create protrusions and craters over the surface. If the collision between particles in my previous example of Confucian Analects represented the collision between different thoughts and ideas of individuals and societies (that is, a difference of opinions within our system), the mass collision on the canvas symbolizes a stronger clash of events, which leaves permanent changes and deep scars. The round and oval-shaped black hemispheres and whirlwind-like images are the product of an artistic desire to create strong tension and dramatic movement over the canvas, as well as a metaphor with multiple meanings. The confidential documents of governments show black bars over censored parts even after their period of confidentiality has expired. These black bars serve not only as a permanent termination of sensitive information, but also as a metaphorical signpost that forms a boundary between those who are able to access the information and those who cannot, creating a visual tension over the whole of the document.
The black spheres and whirlwind-like images in my work are the expressive outlet of my conscience regarding the numerous pieces of information that are censored, fabricated, and cut off. They mean the destruction of historical facts and the damaging of truth by dynasties and governments all over the world, including the Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti, who burned books of the Chinese classics and buried Confucian scholars alive. The blackened pieces that have no words were derived from old books that no longer retain their value, that of communication, and thus are unable to compete with the other neighboring pieces. As the black ribbon of oil coming from a stranded oil tanker instantly reminds us of dead fish and dead oceans, the pieces that are blackened represent death and nonexis- tence and are a final requiem for the numerous lives that are no longer existing on this earth. In my recent works, I also introduced red and blue in addition to black, but the basic philosophical approach is the same.
The small, minimalistic pieces of mulberry paper are finally reborn through the act of adhering them on the canvas—creating a collision between information as well as deciding the moment of vanishment and death. The black spheres and the colorful pieces move in groups over the surface, making scars, creating movement, and depicting confrontations and conflicts. This irregularity and instability, as well as the overall sense of movement of the canvas, is a methodological approach of conveying my artistic imagination, one that I have wanted to express since I was young, and also my own serious way of reconciling myself with Abstract Expressionism, the movement in which I once was so deeply absorbed.
CHUNG, CHANG KI
Chang Ki Chung begins as a fashion photographer in the advertising departments of major Korean groups such as Amore Pacific and Cheil Communication.
In 1987 he opened his own photography studio in Seoul. In 1990 his reputation as a portrait photographer won him the post as the official photographer for Mr. Roe, President of the Korean Republic.
Then, in 1993 Chang Ki Chung decided to move away from Seoul and its hectic pace to live in the countryside and devote himself to the kind of photography that had inspired him to become a photographer. There, following the example of the great masters he so admires, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, he worked in black and white art photography.
Between 1993 and 2009 his new lifestyle inspired him to produce two still life series that belong to both the botanic genre, and that of everyday, familiar objects. In 1999 he began a new study and once again took color photographs, this time of the wild flowers he brought back from his walks, wishing to grant them a second life.
Then, for the first time, Chang Ki Chung produced an outdoors series in black and white, with the Korean west coast as the setting. During several years, from 2003 to 2005, he went on early morning pilgrimages to watch, through the morning fog, an "invisible road" appear and then disappear against the ocean, as impenetrable as the paths our lives take.
In 2006 it was his dove that provided a new source of inspiration when he photographed it, frightened and lost, inside an abandoned school.
From 2007 to 2008, the bright red of a poppy in his garden prompted the beginning of two new series, "Poppy 1 and 2," which were genuine portraits with an anthropomorphic intensity that brought him several exhibitions, both solo and in groups.
"Promises," his most recent series began in 2010, is an autobiographic journey in black and white, symbolized by a scenography built around the fruit of knowledge, the apple.
From 1988 to 2003 Chang Ki Chung was Professor of Photography at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, and from 2000 to 2007 he taught as a Master of the Photographic Art at the Sangmyung University in Seoul.
Chang Ki Chung is a personal photographer, a poet who perfectly controls light to dialogue with his subjects and render the objects or plant life that he photographs magnificent.
He is living and working in France.
SHIN, KWANG HO
LEE, DONG SU
JUNG, BONG CHAE
JANG, SU JI
PARK, JI EUN
Jieun Park, b. 1987 South Korea
‘I love to travel. Traveling to me is an act that simultaneously brings different emotions such as excitement and loneliness. My works show different images of the places where I actually visited, so that I am allowed to express various emotions and the moments that I physically experienced through the journey.’
Jieun’s personal feelings are described in the form of painted ink marks or better described as calligraphy, which are instinctively spread and dropped on the surface of the paper. She then starts creating comparatively realistic images of the cities within the abstract ink marks, adding colors to convey the emotions she felt at specific moments of her trip – be it happiness, loneliness or eagerness.
Jieun’s cityscapes are at times dull, yet there is something that shines through; and though there are no signs of people living in the beautiful cities in her works, the expression of light, color, greenery and skyscapes makes her work alive. She also recalls moments where she felt emotionally overwhelmed and strong feelings of loneliness as she looked down upon the cities from a vantage point. She adds, our cities are changing very fast while we are busy with our lives. Hence, the dull feeling of the buildings portrays the people in hectic daily life, where she believes only meaningless everyday conversation exists.
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