The Origin of Imagery and Life: Neither the “Inside” Nor the “Outside”
Everything we perceive with our eyes appears solid like a wall through which nothing can penetrate. From the viewpoint of particle physics, the surface of something that appears solid like a wall is actually invisible and only empty spaces and particles such as electrons, neutrons, and protons are visible. When seen from the perspective of such elementary particles, things and life forms are obviously different from what we see with our eyes. As we can assert that an “object of observation is obviously influenced by our act of observation in a microscopic world,”1) the observer is closely connected with the object of observation: they are not separate unlike the world we perceive with our eyes.
Unlike works that approach the essence of life and focus on human existence, the pieces on display at this exhibition explore the nature of life, departing from human-centric ideas and perspectives. These works inquire into the elemental nature of life, escaping from human-centered standpoints. Moreover, they hark back to perspectives of particle physics toward objects and living things.
Art critic Choi Tae Man commented that Kang Jin Mo’s work is “a warning against instrumentalized knowledge and has an artistic language inexplicable to reason or science. It is a metaphor for the present earth where yin and yang collide and the law of the jungle is pervasive.” This means we can read the present paradigm of treating life through a wooden animal image looking at an antler hung on the wall.
Intricate structures in Kim Jung Hee’s works look like the movements of elementary particles while images in the middle of those structures are like forms made up of such elementary particles. These forms stand for objects and living things that are visible with our eyes. Kim’s work is a symbolic portrayal of organisms that are linked to one through such structures.
Park Cheon Nam, former chief curator of Sungkok Art Museum stated, “Lee Jae Hyo’s installations encompass nature’s inner and outer structures, depicting them mainly with circles and straight lines. Lee’s work is a succinct, connotative reflection of nature’s circulative structure. He has captured nature’s mellowness and infinity, renewal and extinction, and its attribute of constantly moving and changing." Likewise, his art represents natural objects free and moving. Like something reconstructed by the movement of elementary particles, his sculptural forms display empty areas and are not closely filled with the images of things.
Art critic Lee Sun Hyung claimed, “The ingredients of Jeon Yong Hwan’s work such as strips, lines, and shades of cold and warm hues are not only physical elements, but take on a spatial quality. They are used to symbolize diverse ways in which the universe unfurls infinitely from zero, demonstrating elastic space and time. Time becomes another dimension of space as asserted in the theory of relativity.” Jeon’s work seems to portray the true nature of things formed over time. That is, his sculptures seem to stand for the law of the universe that creates all things while constantly moving in empty space.
1) Yang Cheoi Gon, Quantum Physics and the World of Enlightenment, Think Book, 2015, p. 385.
Art critic Kho Choong Hwan said, “Park Min Sub’s work likens his father to a bull. His complicated woven work also looks like a house. A house is a metaphor for the body or existence. This means that the sprit dwells in the body or the body is a house. A metaphor for existence dwells in his bull.” As such, Park’s sculpture reveals a portrait of his father through the image of a bull. Even if his sculpture shows the image of his father likened to a bull, the image of a bull represents “the nature of qi or inner energy that links one to others, one to nature, and one to the universe.”2)
A critic evaluated Shin's sculpture stating, “Shin Han Chul’s sphere has a perforated surface. As the sphere has holes on its entire surface, even its interior is filled with air. He conducts experiments with how to overcome a given material's properties, employing a non-sculptural manner. His see-through sphere makes me feel fresh.” Likewise, he reflects himself through stainless forms proliferated like flowers. That is, the artist expands his vison toward objects by casting his glance somewhere beyond any physical sense.
Ahn Byung Chul displays an egg-shaped image made of stainless steel. Art critic Lim Sung Hoon commented that “The seed works only in duality between creation and extinction. The artist exquisitely represents this duality in his modeling idioms.” He seems to capture the world surrounding him and reflect the flow of life through seed-like stainless work.
Art critic Jeong Yeon Sim elucidated, “Trees as floating images represent Ju Tae Seok’s idea that what we see is by nature an illusion. That is, his work is a cross presentation of the essence of nature and illusion.” He tries to represent the truth of nature beyond our physical vision.
Lee You Mi stated that Jeon Ji Youn’s work “represents the relationship between man and god, nature and civilization, and spirit and material. A cone-shaped structure is a portrayal of her tangled relations. This includes her relations with her family, everyday life, nature, the absolute, and even her inner self. Her work brings about formless structures through a congregation of numerous meanings.” As such, her work is a geometric representation of relational networks between man and nature.
This exhibition is an exploration of the true nature of life through works by nine artists. The exhibition will provide viewers with an opportunity to see mundane things from the viewpoint of elementary particles and to meditate on their true nature from a new perspective.
By Cho Kwan Yong, Chief Editor of Art and Discourse