Features / Review

MIND MAP_Gallery Director Interview - part2(Gallery Sklo, Gallery SP, LEE & BAE)

posted 31 Aug 2023

In a thoughtful examination of contemporary art, curator Lee Daehyung met with 13 gallerists to explore their views on art, life, and the relevance of their chosen artists today. These conversations inspired the second edition of Dialogue, leading to the exhibition Mind Map. Focusing on the artists' philosophical and humanistic viewpoints, the exhibition uncovers the profound thoughts shaping their work. Lee skillfully extracted the gallerists' mind maps, offering a vivid depiction of their philosophical thinking. "13 Inner Views" transcends a mere interview series; it's a shared journey into the core beliefs and artistic values that resonate in our era. Inviting viewers to engage with contemporary art on a deeper level, the critical comments from each gallerist serve as a significant and accessible exploration of art's meaningful dimensions.

1. Gallery Sklo

KIM Hyojung (Gallery Sklo) X CHOI Hyesook

“I harbor a special fascination for artists who transcend conventional boundaries, employing an array of styles and techniques to explore the fundamental characteristics of glass. Among them, CHOI Hyesook stands out for her genius in infusing the inherent fragility of glass into her art. Her works, though subtle to the eye, are composed of intricate layers, each one a testament to her mastery over the material's ethereal properties. With a touch both delicate and profound, Choi's artistry speaks a unique language of glass, encapsulating what contemporary glass artists strive for. Her work resonates as a metaphorical expression, communicating messages through an eloquent symbol of her intimate connection to the material and her innovative vision in contemporary sculpture. It's an interplay of light and form, a delicate fusion that captures the essence of fragility, beauty, and profound meaning, leaving the viewer with a lingering sense of awe and contemplation.” - KIM Hyojung (Gallery Sklo, Director

Choi Hyesook's work is a testament to her ability to reinterpret the seemingly trivial beauty objects of daily life in a newly invented present era. By positioning the present as the future's past, she questions the epitome and definition of beauty through symbolic objects that have been recently construed and reconstructed into modern relics. Glass is her primary medium, used to display a visual dichotomy of the glistening luxury goods such as designer handbags, high heels, and perfumes made of transparent and sparkling properties of glass. Through this, she perhaps suggests the fragile and ephemeral qualities of beauty and self-fulfillment in today's consumer society.

Choi documents the empty lives of contemporary society with a gaze that overlaps throughout past, present, and future. She captures the frenzied materialistic growth and estrangement in a psychic landscape where nothing else seems to thrive behind the vain exterior. The Relic series, which began in 2019, exemplifies Choi's contemplation on beauty standards, self-fulfillment, and what value will be deemed essential to people in 100 years. She implements "Pâte de verre" techniques to convey the shapes and texture of translucent glass, figuratively elaborating the characteristics of relics that naturally corrode and disintegrate over time. The delicacy of the artwork is enhanced by its museum-like display, which presents a partial and idealized version of the past and designates certain items as worthy of preservation. This display raises questions about the notion of eternal beauty and allows us to explore the significance of temporal experiences.

Choi's method of working within the future's past to question the conventions of beauty is honed in her depiction of Shin Yun-bok's Portrait of Beauty, a reputed emblem of beauty from the Joseon Dynasty. In her work, Choi accessorizes the woman in a hanbok with handbags and shoes, contemporary beauty emblems, to record the beauty of the 21st century by mixing and reorganizing recent and past beauty standards into one imagery. This exploration calls into question the demarcations between original and appropriated images, challenging our comprehension of the dynamic forces shaping our visual aesthetic culture. Her presentation of a woman wearing a hanbok and luxury handbags and high heels in A Series of 21st Version of Portrait of a Beauty (Scroll) VI defamiliarizes normality, deliberately posed by the artist to raise questions to the viewer of the historical transition on ideas of beauty. The work invites viewers to ponder on how this aesthetic quirk of 2023 beauty standards will be perceived in contrast to the beauty norms of 2123 and on the future that is shaped by decisions we are making now. In this way, Choi’s work provokes a deeper comprehension of the fluidity of meaning and the power dynamics that underlie our engagement with beauty, visual, and consumerist culture.

최혜숙, 〈21세기로부터의 유물_가방 시리즈7〉, 2021, 유리(가마성형), 36x39x20cm _ Choi Hyesook, A Relic from the Early 21st Century_Purse 7, 2021, Glass, kiln formed, 36x39x20cm.jpg
Choi Hyesook, A Relic from the Early 21st Century_Purse 7, 2021, Glass, kiln formed, 36x39x20cm

2. Gallery SP

LEE Eunsook (Gallery SP) X RHEE Donghoon

"Clouds are moving structures made of God's vapor," Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) once said. This poetic metaphor serves as an exquisite reflection of the artistry of RHEE Donghoon. Art, in RHEE’s practice, is an organic emanation of the artist's intrinsic philosophy and worldview, a process that must remain intuitive and unburdened by artificial constraint. His works radiate this freedom, borne of meticulous observation and profound contemplation. His profound understanding of material, particularly the nature of wood, aligns seamlessly with his thematic explorations, creating art that feels both grounded and ethereal. His ability to evoke such natural freedom is not merely a demonstration of technical skill; it is a resonant expression of a deep and abiding connection to his subjects. The experience of RHEE’s work thus transcends mere observation, becoming a profound interaction that invites viewers into a contemplative space defined by both simplicity and complexity, naturalism and conceptualism.” - LEE Eunsook (Gallery SP Director)

Rhee Donghoon's art is a captivating exploration of movement and stillness, conveyed through a combination of sculptures and paintings. With acute observation, the artist's sculptures capture moments of various movements, from the vitality of living creatures to the dynamic movements of K-pop idols, rooted in his research on traditional still-life paintings of vases. These sculptures serve as the primary act of looking at and expressing the subject, while the paintings act as a secondary act of rearranging and recollecting the subject, creating a harmonious interplay between the two.

As an artist with a background in painting, Rhee expands his expressive style into sculpture, creating a rich and complex world of works that encompass both traditional still-life objects and contemporary Korean popular culture icons. By utilizing static still-life paintings and dynamic idol choreography, which lie at opposite ends of the movement spectrum, he adds diversity and depth to his works.

The Wood Sculpture series, one of Rhee's most representative works, highlights wood's texture and expressive characteristics. Using an electric saw and carving knife, the artist visualizes circular wood into the desired shape he wants to express, such as plants and idol dance movements. He then adds acrylic colors to complete the wood sculpture, incorporating painting elements into the sculpture. By taking a panoramic photo of the finished wood sculpture and drawing a painting based on it, Rhee constructs an expression technique that transcends the boundaries of painting and sculpture, resulting in a unique and captivating experience for viewers.

In his latest exhibition, Rhee presents his Wood Sculpture series, including Statice, Alstroemeria, Carnation and Gypsophila and paintings such as Statice, Alstroemeria, Carnation and Gypsophila1 alongside new paper sculptures such as Withered Flowers and Flowers. Through these paper sculptures, the artist explores the sculptural possibilities of paper, utilizing its light and thin characteristics to create various shapes, such as stretching and folding structures. The artist expands his sculptures into new and exciting territories by maximizing the aesthetic material and form extension of paper, which has different properties from wood. Rhee's works offer a crucial perspective on the shifting landscape of artistic practice, showcasing his ability to seamlessly blend and transcend other mediums and genres to create a thought-provoking experience for viewers.

이동훈, 〈일곱번째 감각〉, 2023, 느룹나무에 아크릴, 180×370×423cm _ Rhee Donghoon, The 7th Sense, 2022, Acrylic on elm, 180×370×423cm.jpg
Rhee Donghoon, The 7th Sense, 2022, Acrylic on elm, 180×370×423cm

3. LEE & BAE

BAE Miae (LEE & BAE) X JEONG Zik Seong

“Some works consistently attract attention, regardless of the artist, genre, or era. These works often evoke profound truths about nature and life, encouraging a humble and solemn approach to daily existence. JEONG Zik Seong, an artist imbued with unyielding resolve and a transcendent grasp of our complex world, crafts a tapestry where luminosity and obscurity meet in harmonious embrace. Her art is a poetic testament to the intrinsic union of light and shadow, an allegory for life's dichotomies. Her series of flower paintings blossom into this vision, petals unfurling to reveal an aspiration for a society marked by graceful coexistence. "Her awakened painting is waking us up," whispers an echoing truth, capturing her modest yet profound alchemy in shaping art's societal resonance.” - BAE Miae (LEE & BAE, Director)

Jeong Zik Seong is a highly experienced Korean female painter and a mother of three children. Her artworks explore the ethical and spiritual dimensions of painting by experimenting with color semantics and brushstrokes, acknowledging the layered nature of creating an image. Jeong appropriates painterly historical references to create allegorical paintings that reflect current realities and recently integrated Korean symbols, such as the thousand-year-old Nahjeon lacquer technique or Sagunja, to expand her scope of site-specific artwork.

Over the past two decades, Jeong has depicted the reality of average housing in Korean society in geometric abstract paintings, expanding her painterly capacity by rendering city scenery in her unique abstract strokes. Starting with her Semi-detached Houses series in 2002, followed by Constructive Abstract/Construction Site Abstract, Blue Collar/Blue Color, and The Mechanic series, Jeong's work reflects her own memory fragments and perception dynamics, exhibiting her ability to process her daily reality into her own artistic means of contemplation.

Jeong's frequent relocations, sometimes as many as forty-three times to find affordable rentals, were instrumental in shaping the geometric and abstract shapes of the rows of low-income housing districts of Seoul in her Semi-detached Houses series. Her Construction Abstract/Construction Site Abstract series interprets the deconstruction and construction of rapid development sites in Seoul, emphasizing the performative act of erasing.

Jeong's interest in natural ecology has led her to question the relationship between the transitional nature of the four-season landscape and the symbolic expressions in art. Her Contemporary Mother-of-Pearl Paintings series, which she began in 2019, sees her implementing techniques of lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Jeong converts the materiality of Mother-of-pearl into rhythmic visuals using reflected light from the Mother-of-pearl exterior to project its own unique abstraction. Her use of the medium's physical properties as a tool to explore beyond the flat surface reveals Jeong's artistic proficiency and her constant endeavor to expand painting peripheries