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.
“In an era where technology prevails, I'm captivated by art that embodies 'humanity.' As I delve into an artist's perspective and creations, I seek the traces of their struggles, mistakes, and heartfelt efforts, resonating with genuine human touch. Lee Fi's art emerges as a precious quest in this era of questioning 'humanity.' Her practice unfolds like a lush orchard, where creative power molds captivating works akin to trees bearing fruit—condensing and releasing energy. Each piece disperses essence, trailing emotions, delicacy, and human traces. Brush strokes and clay molding reveal her intricate visual vocabulary. Her creations evoke myriad senses, dancing between humor and enigmatic charm. Lee Fi's unique worldview, a bountiful orchard, teems with complexity and wonder.” - LEE Sookhee (Art Space 3 Director)
Lee Fi Jae's art is a powerful commentary on the complexities of the body, both present and absent, and the social and cultural prejudices surrounding it. She creates altars that embody various forms of the 'body,' including those inside her own physique, the bodies of others shaped through her senses, extinct bodies, and bodies of future creatures. Her artworks become a retreat into her safe haven world, functioning as a defense mechanism. Lee invents a mysterious and ritualistic tone in her aesthetics, inviting viewers into a meditative surreal space. Her painting technique is rooted in traditional Buddhist painting, which she learned at a temple in Korea after returning from studying in America in 2008. This skill is a solid foundation for crafting her sculptures, installations, and paintings, enriched with experimentation using mediums such as tempered plastic and gold pigments.
In Egg of Ego, a triptych altarpiece, Lee dramatizes a scene of a woman's body surrounded equally by female 'eggs' that contain countless lives that she has failed to nurture. These lives represent a 'baggage' full of future lives that cannot be opened due to myriad forms of discrimination and prejudice associated with the female body. Through her art, Lee revitalizes the numerous extinct, unborn, deformed, ignored, and dead bodies, creating a space for them in her artistic sphere.
Lee's probing of conceptual forms of the body has shifted in her recent works, focusing on the absence of the body. After the passing of her grandmother, Lee experienced post-traumatic stress that overwhelmed her with sensitive hearing, causing a bombardment of auditory stimuli. This phenomenon extended to color hearing, leading Lee to transform sound into color. Her heightened senses surpass the medium of her vanished grandmother, altering the notion of death as cheerful and colorful, like her grandmother's sewing kit. This awakening elicits the expansion of her artistic realm as a human being, connecting Lee and her grandmother in one body that interacts through a transparent interface of ‘absence.’ Although Lee's depictions may appear unsympathetic, she articulates a creative practice to overcome her inner strain, using parables to represent important insights, if not truths, that she has acquired with her journey.
Lee Fi Jae, The Excavated Souls of My Kind Grandma and the Birds Buried Alive with Her, 2020, Mixed media, 84x197x200cm
“We are captivated by art that reflects the virtuous cycle of environmental and emotional ecology, embracing the contemporary essence of unity across time. The allure of pictorial performativity lies in making the intangible tangible through tactile sensations. Shin Junmin's work mesmerizes as it tactfully explores visions, projecting the interplay of natural and artificial light onto the canvas, materializing emotions through brushstrokes. The eidos of light becomes the form of emotional perception, intricately sensed with every stroke, creating a unique sensory experience for the viewers. Each piece invites contemplation, as the artist's tactile exploration unfolds, evoking a profound connection between the artwork, the artist, and the observer—a dance of light and emotions on the canvas.” - KIM Okreal & JUNG Myoungju (Art Space Purl Directors)
Shin Junmin, an active artist in Daegu, finds inspiration in specific places like unfamiliar landscapes from his daily walks, Dalseong Park Zoo, civic sports stadiums, and Dalseong Wetlands. He experiments with painting to explore the theme of various shapes of light, including natural and artificial light. His recent works aim to remove visual facets and announce formal absurdities by depicting 'light'-containing landscapes in a painterly manner that expresses his personal emotions and feelings.
Shin perceives various shapes of light in a sensory way, considering factors like temperature, wind, sound, and day color. He captures these shapes of light on the canvas with paint, overlaying countless lines and colors, simultaneously forming new shapes.
The work exhibited in this exhibition, Night Light, depicts the streetlights illuminating a night walkway and was inspired by Shin's experience of intense and rapid light. He felt as if the two intense spotlights shone like big eyes were looking at him like an owl, and this work expresses his sensory and visual perception at that moment. Shin attempts to reveal a different world by juxtaposing what can and cannot be recorded and seen. Spotlight is another piece that depicts the artist's impression of the intense light pouring down from the giant spotlight that illuminated the civic sports stadium when he was a child, including the tension and cheers of the people.
Shin connects the light observed and experienced in the night landscape through his paintings to his awakened sensory and visual expression. He perceives the many faces of light that reflect the substance between the visible and invisible, or the boundary between concrete and abstract when expressing the shape of 'light' in painting. Besides its sheer aesthetic value, Shin's works convey a tangible sense of his acute artistic intelligence. His daily experience of natural light and artificial lighting serves as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the unchanging through the color and form of the visual language of painting, which changes every moment. Shin's works offer a unique perspective on the theme of light, observing the shapes of light in the world around us and expressing his personal emotions and feelings through his painterly expression.
Shin Junmin, Installation view of NEW LIGHT, 2022, Boan1942, Seoul
“Artist KIM Gemini embodies a pursuit of Sensible Reality, wielding a keen yet universal vision that transcends the constraints of time and place. His artistry is not merely a reflection of existence but a continuous sprint through life, unearthing the layers of history, memories, and the very traces of human experience. With an acute focus that can become intensely specific or expansively broad, Kim's work delves into how one might perceive and react to life in a way that's both sensory and profoundly artistic. This approach creates a resonating dialogue with the essence of our shared human experience, echoing questions of perception, response, and artistic integrity. It's a journey that invites the audience to engage, reflect, and travel alongside an artist deeply attuned to the complexities of the human condition." - SEO Juno (O’ NewWall Director)
Kim Gemini's art is rooted in his deep interest in Asia's unique situation centered on military culture and its changed pre- and post-war narratives. He collects traces of dispersed art in each region and converts them into visual expressions of his own. Kim works in methods like a museum, collecting fragmentary stories of post-colonial industries in each city and assembling and classifying cases of humanity in industrialized areas where human alienation has accelerated. His films remind us of the impermanence of all cultural formations and values and the strive to find personal balance within endless flux.
Kim's collaborations with artists from countries with a war history often involve personal activities that steer away from grand discourse, such as walking, crop cultivation, and neighborhood cleaning. These activities serve as a physical experience archival method exhibited through forms of video and collection of multiple objects that occurred during the working process. We Grow Rice, a project in his current exhibition, is nurtured through collaboration with the 'Le Brothers' from Vietnam. The work portrays the process of mixing, planting, and growing Vietnamese Rice with the Rice harvested by his father in Korea. The cultivation process is photographed daily by the project participant, a Vietnamese farmer, who later consumes the harvested grains with the artist on the 95th day. Through this project, Kim intends for profound questions to arise concerning bygone wars, sustenance, and the potential for art to transcend the constraints of borders.
Kim's interests in the city's outskirts continue in his series Ogeunse, Moonkwang which narrates from the region west of Seoul where the artist once resided. After discovering that the characters in the movie 'Parasite' were from Bucheon and Gwangmyeong-suburban areas outside the city- he traced a pilgrimage route based on the film, starting from the outskirts of Seoul to the mansion in Seongbuk-dong, as a homage to the departed personas in the film. Kim's 20-kilometer pilgrim journey concerns on a deeper level than its film-based route as he reports on the imbalanced desires of the people for Seoul and their growing sanctification of the city as their one and only epicenter. Kim's artwork addresses the pressing issues of extinction and development crises small and medium-sized cities face. It also highlights the intricate relationship between appearance and perception, a paradox that encourages viewers to reflect on the difference between physical geography and political frontiers, reality, and the actions of individuals who exist in and around these unstable borders.
Kim Gemin, Installation view of To you-Move Toward Where You Are, 2022, ARKO Art Center, Seoul
“In the world of Korean art, where the rich landscape tradition is not confined to a singular perspective, Jo Jong Sung emerges as a unique artist embodying a fresh viewpoint. His art invites an exploration beyond mere materials and techniques, delving into a relational dimension that challenges the conventional Western norm of a single vanishing point. Instead, his works revel in a multitude of perspectives, offering a vision reminiscent of a vibrant imaginary realm. Jo Jong Sung's approach seamlessly integrates the traditions of the Orient with contemporary innovations, preserving the dignity of ancient wisdom while forging a new path. His paintings provide more than visual aesthetics; they capture the very essence of imagination in a rich tapestry that transcends mere representation. Through a masterful fusion of meticulous brushstrokes, sculptures, and installations, he crafts a virtual space that is alive with color and form. This delicate balance between tradition and modernity, coupled with his unwavering creativity, ensures that Jo's art resonates with a profound depth, bridging the old and the new in a mesmerizing visual journey." - JOO Min-Young (Johyun Gallery Director)
Jo Jong Sung recreates his own landscape painting by accentuating the various viewpoints in landscape painting while opting for a moving perspective rather than a fixed perspective. The artist edits and collages partial images of old ink-wash paintings and creates a newly reinterpreted Korean ink painting of an unfamiliar yet familiar landscape, focusing on revisioning the landscape viewpoint of ancestors and exploring the density of ink in traditional Korean landscape paintings. Jo crafts these charming landscapes, enjoyable from various perspectives over a fixed one, which adeptly achieves using ink and hanji.
The artist mirrors the various elements that form landscape painting in flat or three-dimensional expression and reinterprets ancient landscape paintings in multilayers. Tigers, islands, and houses often appear as partial components of landscape painting but are extracted into singular core themes in Jo's artworks in How Many Tigers Are There? Eastern Island and House Seen from A Moving Perspective Architectural Model Paper. Such a multilayered interpretation of landscape painting is unveiled as Jo models the small house inside the landscape painting into a three-dimensional form in the exhibition space in House Seen from A Moving Perspective Architectural Model Paper, staging the details of the painting into actuality. The three-dimensional presence of the small house is now an object placed on the ground, interacting with the two-dimensional painting hung on the wall. For viewers, encountering House Seen from A Moving Perspective Architectural Model Paper is an exercise in physical mobility as well as perception.
Landscape Seen from A Moving Perspective features a repetition of elements such as mountains and stones, trees and houses, bridges and water, and clouds. Although it holds a painting composition of an ambiguous center and division, the viewer's perception is not compromised. The artwork's playful composition recognizes the failings of visual perceptions as manifest in traditional Korean landscapes, adding an element of uncertainty. However, the artwork in this current exhibition differs from Jo's Landscape Seen from A Moving Perspective series, showcasing a new artistic practice and approach. His previous works were painted with layering of brushstrokes, whereas the recent work is painted by adjusting the concentration of gold pigment on a black background.
The composition of the shape of the moon, fog, and the background is what determines the overall painting, requiring dexterity from the artist in maneuvering the darkness and brightness of the background and the gold pigment for the images of the fog to be visible. In return, the meticulous method of painting is precisely what stimulates the viewer's imagination and perception as Jo continues to engage in these new paradigms, challenging traditional artistic practices and notions of spectatorship.