Curator, OCI Museum of Art
One might say that it is an artist who is of the most conviction, self-respect and obstinate. Indeed, half of this assumption must be true. This is because a person can be labelled an artist when the ground of his work is as hard as a diamond; the finish of his eyesight is as sharp as a needle which can easily dig into the outer skin of all matters, and his thoughts is as high as thrilling voltage. However, the harder the inside of an artist becomes, the softer the outside has to be. An artist needs to know how to embody the thorns of the truth, catch the unseen story of the world with a delicate heart, and only truly understand others through seeing pain and sympathizing with it. Therefore, only half is true.
An artist is a human being and thus an artwork is created by a human being. Because in current times an environmental effects evaluation is required just by taking a handful of sand from the riverside, there is no doubt that surrounding environments have an influence on an artist’s practice. The words of one of the artists who have their studio in the concrete forest of buildings has been revolving in my mind. “I am not sure when I would have this opportunity again. The forest of buildings outside of the studio’s window will be the forest for my ideas for a while.”
In this respect, OCI Museum of Art Residency is quite unique. The eight studios are huddled together on some odd corner where even a common convenience store can’t be found. The unnecessary sound of passing trucks and the howling of the wind welcome new artists. When the artists adjust to the studioes, where each other’s footsteps echo like the sound from Dolby Digital Surround System, and come to feel the rhythm occurring at the sound of people pressing the password for the digital door lock and the aura of individual footsteps, the participation of people truly affirm the originality of all beings. The artists in the studio accustom themselves to their surroundings, exchange greetings with visiting acquaintances, and start to see each other’s practice. The magnetic field or so-called ‘inspiring field’ which give and receive energy and inspirations among artists start to emerge. This type of art studio is not a place where everything runs perfectly, like a motor works for a machine. Art practice has a wider and bigger meaning than expression on canvas or all of the processes of making art, such as researching, contemplating and looking for materials.
An incident does not only have a positive influence but the artists in the studio have the ability to make a right choice and adapt their choice to theirs. In doing so, they unconsciously reflect each other. Therefore, this exhibition can be seen as the artist’s report of a year or the result of the Creative Studio. At the same time, the ceremony celebrates the end of a year by sharing what they produced within the past year as artists. This would all probably be understood differently depending on the individual, group and institution.
Time unwearyingly and continuously goes by. The present instantly hands over its position to the next moment and becomes the past. That is why this endlessly renewable ‘now’ is so special. Thus, if this fearful volatility of time is considered, it is natural to attempt to collect time through photography and records. Chi-shin Kim captures a point of contract time with the world, the concept of ‘now’, in a unique way. The range is diverse so that it touches from domestic and foreign social issues to an individual platform. A subject does not have to be grand and the artist also does not attempt to remodel a subject. A saying exists that no comment is more fatal than a malicious comment. His practice is a response or comments to the present, all while being ‘fan art’. It can be also seen as a parody or homage. The artist or the artist’s work broods over the present, as if an ornamental plant is examined. Yet this action of brooding over itself is also one of the precious presents. Moreover, his work is not all serious. The sign “(non) hitting daycare center” on the signboard in the silhouette shape of a fist, the riot polices on the box of a water gun1)… As a humor exists behind these serious subjects, the spiciness is neutralized and the subtle charm of a reversal stands out. Like an adult gives a candy to a child who took bitter medicine, they hold and induce people to think more in depth.
Night wears a mask of darkness and withdrawal, but it is always the quiet ones. Light seems quiet in front of bigger light but reveals its true color in darkness. Therefore, days are naively and honestly light and nights are flashy. Sang-hee Park ‘engraves’ cities and nights on canvases. It is not a metaphorical description. The artist really makes layers with paper and paints, and does engraving with a knife. This effect incites audiences’ curiosity on light in darkness by revealing light(colors) irregularly through engraved surfaces rather than showing everything at once. Layers shown through an oblique section easily overcome the physical limitations and endlessly extend the surface of a canvas in both horizontal and vertical ways with the look that many paintings are densely overlapped. This visual, which gives an illusion that different time, vision and thoughts are compressed to one, throws a strong allusion. However, where it does not completely hide but also meekly reveals the original substances, one does not deeply fall into such a vision and grow away from the surface in front of it. In other words, the confession of the actual materials of the layers within the work clearly prove that the work depicts ‘existences’.
Capital has the effect of ‘cutting out’ nature. In every construction site, holes are dug, square iron pipes are embedded into them, and reinforced steel and concrete fill the rest of spaces. Unfinished roads and severed ridges can be often seen in South Korea when people ride on highways or railroads. Hyung-jin Park closely examines ‘severed sceneries’ or ‘severance in sceneries’ and patiently seeks to find something within them. The gardens around us are artificial terms of nature where they are geometrically decorated by human hands. Mountains and fields were at one time continuous forms of nature without boundaries, but as they are slowly become cut by charnel houses and roads, scenes of mountains and fields have now become continuous in their discontinuity. A stream which embodied air, water and fish as one from the surface to the bottom are now severed from several occurrences of algal blooms while a winding river is chopped by a weir. The grid often seen in the artist’s paintings perfectly represents a net, which evenly and calmly captures discontinuity which cuts continuity and a digital vision which goes beyond an analogue vision. As stated by ‘ChunMangHoiHoiSoLeeBulSil(天網恢恢疎而不失)2)’, the grid in the artist’s paintings whcih works as a net of the sky does not cry out with anger but still implies what has to be looked back upon.
An the meaning of the Korean word 화폭(畵幅, Hwapok: image) itself reminds us, an image has to have a boundary. Thus, an attempt to capture both the wide and deep universe and countlessly diverse creatures on one singular image may prove illogical. However, Yun-ju Song embraces3) not only exposed phenomena but also unconsciousness and coincidence by acknowledging the outside of rationality. The paintings evoke the yin and yang cycles and all creation through 64 trigrams5) of Zhouyi4). Those trigrams are the combination of the yin and yang symbols. The contents of trigrams are called 卦辭(Guisa: content of trigram) and each characteristic of them is compressed to 卦名(Guimyung: name of trigram) and expressed in characters. Each of them has their own 卦象(Guisang: image of trigram) to embody images of all creation, and even embraces formless values and concepts by becoming 卦德(Guiduk: virtue of trigram). For example, yang plus yin plus yang is fire, and two of them are 重火離, ䷝, which refers the sun as two fires overlap and means intense flourish. The rapid assimilation as if Derrida’s division of pictorial symbols appeared again overcomes discontinuity. It is not superstition. Projecting ‘Tao’ of the creation comes from the philosophy and wisdom of life which understand changes and acquire the appropriateness of how to handle them.
An actor has a very unique job which repeatedly crosses over different dimensions and changes to a different person. By the way, what if an actor is not a human being but a character? Silverstar runs SSK Entertainment with the ‘actor-characters’ corps beyond the reality in another world. As the artist manages the entertainment in the virtual world, the artist becomes ‘PD Silverstar’. The company’s actor-characters actively perform in the various stages in the virtual world. Each stage is virtually made up for them, which means that characters work for characters. The characters carry out their jobs while shuttling between the virtual world and virtual world in the virtual world, and it feels like Silverstar lets audiences travel the real and virtual worlds through the work. Therefore, it also seems like the Korea’s traditional play with a rubber rope; the artist holds audiences’ hands and goes over different dimensions together. As the most exciting moment is remembering a dream after waking up, the artist chooses diverse mediums such as painting, installation, performance and etc. to show this play in the reality.
If the image of ‘classic’ has to be summarized into a word, ‘nostalgia’ first comes to mind. Longing for your old childhood home should not be only about a specific place. Limpid pure eyes and a pounding heart even for the smallest things are central emotions to longing. Arong Chung rides a unicorn and dives into a romance of old painting which sleeps in the forest. The forest, which grows dense in layers, holds a sense of expectation towards an unknown place. A unicorn is an animal which lives in an imaginative world beyond the reality. It has to be hidden and seen in the distance in order to feel its mystery. This mystery cannot be easily imitated by others, so a unicorn forms an aura7) by showing off its originality and legitimacy. Of course, Chung’s works in today’s society do not restore or succeed to the aura of the old days. However, we are left to wonder where can we find this modern charm, a charm which embodies definite romance, a concept that is foreign to us in modern times. A stubborn dirt road seems fresh next to asphalt-paved roads. These depictions of old-fashioned romance in the 21st century is interesting where we understand that the images no longer exist and belong to the past, and even so viewers have a pure interest in the estranged originality in the work.
One of the most important questions reverent to the movie of 2016 in South Korea is: “What’s so important?8)”. Hyun-ik Cho’s practice actually originates from these concerns about “What’s so important?” or what is valuable to us. Whether it is physical or time-based, it is clear that the densities of values are not equal depending on the dimension of consideration. In fact, even for General Choe Yeong, if you were to throw away a gold nugget with stones when making the ground even, it is not easy. Nowadays in Korea society, people often make use of labels to divide each other, through using words like ‘earthy spoon’ and ‘golden spoon’, in order to distinguish each other’s backgrounds. If gold can be defined as something that is precious that does not change, the artist is seeking to define in his practice how my and your gold is different, and which one is real. The artist lays the real conditions9) of distorted religious faith and social ideology relating to the idea of ‘my and your gold’ on his golden plates. There is also a work framing a young son’s first word after the time of long babbles with a gilt edge of paper. How the short word of the artist’s son gives a big pleasure more than Tolstoy’s complete collection! It can be surely regarded as ‘my gold’. ‘Gold’ or the ‘Gospel’ does not exist above the clouds. The noise which a bowl and spoon make is the gospel of life for life’s sake.
A piece of art is also an extension of life. Therefore, it is not strange to find interesting subject matters in everyday life. Su-jin Choi is groping for shiny memories of life and emotional fragments in her work. The artist eventually looks back at herself as an artist and reflects what she sees about herself in her practice. What subject matter is closer or more plausible than making art to an artist? Every part of the artist’s journey of making art becomes an artwork. The artist digs colors, chooses fresh ‘color lumps’ among them, and ripens ready ones. The artist frames horizons, scoops up breathes, and delivers wind and clouds. Thoughts and wills turn into people who are busy fulfilling the duties of labors. This process is like making flower water and like depicting ‘flowers before making flower water’, filling ‘ripe colors’ into ‘unripe color lumps’ of painting while referring to the artist herself. The artist’s exhibiting works embody this lively, brilliant and divine process. It is, so to speak, meta-painting, which paints how painting is painted. The scene when the actors on TV watch TV comes to mind. Perhaps in the near future, there will be a painting that paints how met-painting is painted.
There is a saying that “the sum of parts is not equal to the whole”. Trees of ‘copy and paste’ are not the forest. Trees stand and get caught in a rainstorm separately but the forest calls out various birds and animals. OCI Museum of Art Residency is the same. It is not just a group of the artists’ studios in one place, but is in the likeness of a dense forest called ‘Creative Studio’. It will call out all kinds of creative birds and animals like a dense forest.
The product name is even <112 Police Power Water Gun>, causing me to wonder how the artist found this specific product…. The phrase “wear the police helmet and obtain the absolute power with Power Water Gun!” brings humor while being serious all at the same time.
2) “The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape“ The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 73, Lao-tzu
3) The elements of truth, which compose the world, even embrace coincidence although it is believed to be the phenomenon outside of the real world. Perhaps coincidence may be a fragment of inevitability. Then, it would prove to be rational in larger significance
4) It can be also called as I Ching (易經 literally meaning “Classic of Changes”). The major meaning of ‘易’ can be summarized as ‘exchanging or being new when a situation or phenomenon is changed’.
5) The principles of how all creation change are compressed with such combination of the sign called ‘Hyo(爻)’. If each Hyo represents yin and yang, three Hyos form 8(=23) kinds of short trigrams(單卦) and two Hyos form 64(=26) kinds of middle trigrams(重卦).
6) According to Jacques Derrida (1930~2004), pictorial symbols literally worked as ‘pictorial symbols’ but their division today made the clear roles of pictures and texts. This means that pictures and texts have a common denominator on their base and thus, two languages are not completely separated.
7) Walter Benjamin (1892~1940) actually had been criticized with the mystical element of the term because of its semantic ambiguity and uncertain border of application, but he saw it as the most notable influence on artworks after the advent of the replication technology without any specific judge of values. In other words, fortunately, it has the nuance that does not harass the romance of mystery and restoration.
8) It is the line appeared in the movie <The Wailing>(2016). It was a familiar phrase which everyone heard about even without watching the movie.
9) ‘Siltae(實態) the real condition’. Yet ‘Siltae(失態) losing the original face’ also fits well in the context. I am sure readers also have experienced this in their lives, where the higher the degree of faith and the desire to conquer the world one has, the more their original face is diluted, and the concentration of desires and oppressions towards the power becomes dense.