In the months of September & October, we have been pleased to have on our walls the works of three talented Korean photographers, all focusing on the landscape.
Wall space gallery, in partnership with curator Joanne Junga Yang, takes a look at the work of contemporary photography of South Korea in a continuing series of exhibitions, the first being Surveying the Landscape, that opened on September 1st, 2015. Navigating a cultural and emotional landscape foreign to us in the United States, these artists are all looking at the divide between present and past, of country and individual, of what could be, what is and what was.
Each of the artists’ unique vision and connection to their heritage combines to give us a sense of the cultural shift from their collective history to individual desire and experience. Jeonglok Lee uses the butterfly, the spirit symbol of moving between worlds, to highlight past and present, the emotional to the physical. Won-Chul Lee captures Korean Burial Mounds and the trees that grow at their base. It is the perception of a full circle of life that surrounds us, spiritually and visibly. Sungseok Ahn is holding us accountable for the present by reminding us of the past. That the continual march of progress should pay homage to what came before. Wholesale destruction of heritage, culture and the story of a people should not be dismissed without honor.
This exhibition is the first in a four part series examining contemporary Korean photography and its impact in the rich history of contemporary works. Exhibitions are slated for 2016 and 2017 looking at different means of expression using photographs, as well as looking at the ideas behind the cultural landscape of South Korea.
About Jeonglok Lee – Nabi
With light, I have been painting something that exists despite its invisible nature; places that correspond to the visible world, places beyond our sensual cognition, profoundly mysterious places that nevertheless cannot be separated from our world of cognition. Painting with light is the body, mind, and the soul harmoniously following the rhythm; it was an act of delivering positive energy felt by the body, rather than creating something from nothing.
There is a space in which reason dissipates. There is a special place that is outside of the fence of concepts. The place is outside and inside of my self at the same time; when I reach that place, I do not merely depend on my sight, but I exploit all of my senses. When all senses are unlocked, a new world is opened. While creating this peace, I summarized lights in various symbolic forms into nabi, the butterfly. The butterfly, symbolizing a being moving from this world to the other, a spirit, was used to signify a gate and a messenger linking the two worlds. Nabi, the title of my work, also means prophet in Hebrew. The sphere that sometimes appears stems from the original form and order of the universe. I expressed the spirit inside the form, not the form itself, in the form of nabi, the butterfly.
About Won-Chul Lee – The Starlight Gyeongju
The tree in spring pushes out new sprouts, flowers and bears fruits. Then, in autumn its leaves turn red and are fallen into the ground, decays into manure during winter, and again becomes the nutrient for pushing out fresh shoots in spring. It repeats this cycle; in 1-year cycle, it lives for tens of years or hundreds of years. Although it comes out of the same root, stretches its branch, bears flowers and fruits every year, it always bears ‘fruit of the year’. Even one tree repeats the death and birth of life in its cycle, and the more it repeats, the more its root deepens as well as trunk gets thicker and stronger.
Human is born nourished from his parents’ body, grows up suckling to mother’s breast, and makes a model of his parents until he reaches to the age accountable for himself. As the time comes when he can be responsible for his life and carrying it out for himself, human also reproduces his own child and becomes an adult. As his parents did, he also brings up his child with his ability, and he gets stronger and tough but soon gets smaller as time goes.
The death of grand-father gives a birth to his grandson. Human genealogy, which develops succeeding to generations through a silent teaching of ancestor, makes no difference from the circulation of tree, which bears a life in the process of the fallen leaves decay into the nutrients for the fresh sprouts. Perhaps, isn’t it true that the death of human doesn’t end with his death, but it bears ‘fruit of that generation’ by the birth of new life which has the same root, is it?
About Sungseok Ahn – Historic Present
The Historic Present Project was intended as a study on the essence of photography, an effort to recollect the memories of changing spaces. I had questioned what is it that we discuss when the present and the past named history make a conversation. This is the result of such quest. Presenting Interconnection and Infinity and Beyond that follow historic present, the exhibition observes how our reality is transformed into an imaginary fantasy, where the infinitely invisible scenery that used to unfold in history appears in real life. Living in the contemporary Korean society means piling up layers of unorganized time. The way it is changing takes us somewhere unknown in haste.
About Joanne Junga Yang –
Joanne Junga Yang is the director of Y&G Art global contemporary project, an agency specializing in the exchange of fine art photography, as well as finding and introducing contemporary artists from around the world to the Asian public. She worked as a curator of the Seoul Photo Festival (2011) and co-curator of the Dong Gang International Photo Festival (2013). She has organized and curated many exhibitions on contemporary art and photography. In 2011, she was awarded a commendation by the mayor of Seoul, Seoul Metropolitan Government (for her curation of the Seoul Photo Festival) and she has been appointed Director of the International Committee, Seoul Photo Festival, by the Seoul Metropolitan City Government.
Joanne served as an editor-in-chief of Point: Asian Contemporary Art magazine (2010–2011), editor-in-chief of ‘ArtVas-The Photo’ magazine (2012–2013) and has published many columns and interviews to Korean and International photographic art magazines such as Monthly Photography, PhotoDot, Photo Plus, PANTOM, and many more.
The exhibition runs through 31 October, 2015. A catalog of this work is available for purchase. For more information about the exhibition or its artists, please contact the gallery. The exhibition is also featured on the gallery’s Artsy page.