The following art institutions in Korea are holding solo exhibitions to introduce the works of four artists. The Art Sonje Center introduces Heinkuhn Oh, who has been working on photography that provides a glimpse into Korean society, and Hyunseon Kang, who reflects a modern aspect that can be summarized as multiple identities are introduced. At Museumhead, Isaac Moon continues to experiment with sculptural forms in various ways, and at d/p, Cha Ji Ryang presents media works that reflect individuals existing in the social system.
Hyunseon Kang works with new media installations and videos to create architectural and psychological spaces. In a total of six works on the 2nd floor of the center, the character of the artist and “Lucy,” an alter ego with multiple identities, repeatedly appear throughout the exhibition. Each character explores a specific time and space. Therefore, the artist’s character is not merely a substitute for the artist but rather an anonymous being, and Lucy is also designed to examine the identity, subjectivity, and consciousness of the self.
We have multiple identities in the contemporary world. Hyunseon Kang has been studying the meaning of multiple identities and self-images by questioning the systems that comprise our society and the criteria that define them. To delve into this question, the artist invited and collaborated with other experts in the process of creating works and organizing the exhibition to ask questions about the future of contemporary art production.
The artist invited two curators to create the artwork, utilized a title generated by artificial intelligence, as well as incorporated images also created by artificial intelligence. In this way, the artist questions what constitutes art and how to make something that transcends “I,” “us,” and “art.” The exhibition’s title reflects the artist’s concerns about these issues. “Post” is meant to transcend; thus, the artist hopes the exhibition becomes an opportunity to go beyond “me.”
Among the exhibited works, Tangerine Dream Museum explores the possibility of an alternative museum. Lucy, who guides the museum, plays the pseudo-identity of curator Juhyun Cho. Lucy, who became the founder and curator of the museum, introduces the historical background of the museum and its unique ecosystem related to the Jeju natural forest Gotjawal, located on the opposite side of the Western imperialist botanical classification. The artwork imagines an alternative museum that interacts with the natural ecosystem through “action” rather than “possession.”
Another work, Garden of Reason (2022), composed of VR and two-channel video, presents a virtual garden. The story begins with Captain James Cook and Joseph Banks discovering plants in the New World. Audience members are invited to explore these plant species, which evolve into new types of species created by artificial intelligence according to the conversion entered by the artist. The work encourages the audience to reconsider the various concepts that accompany the institutionalization of a particular subject.
Artist Hyunseon Kang (b. 1978) works on expressing the influence of online and offline, virtual and real spaces on individuals, society, and institutions in various ways. Kang has held numerous solo exhibitions at institutions, including Studio Concrete (Seoul, 2017), KAIST Research & Art Gallery (Seoul, 2014), and Motor Gallery (Lisbon, 2012), and participated in group exhibitions held at the Gwangju Design Biennale, Ilmin Museum of Art, Wooyang Museum of Art, and Mimesis Art Museum.
Heinkuhn Oh’s solo exhibition Left Face presents one of the artist’s series, Portraying Anxiety, which he has been working on since 2006.
Korea is considered a collectivistic society where people have close ties with fellow members of the group. This can be seen everywhere in Korean society. Everyone has their own individuality, but some images come to mind when we think of certain groups, such as ajumma (a Korean word for a married or middle-aged woman), high school girls, and soldiers. Oh captures such a specific group in Korean society as a portrait. It is intended to express the common emotional insecurities felt by the majority of people. Portrait of Anxiety is a collection of works that express the anxiety of contemporary Koreans.
Left Face is a series of photographs depicting individuals the artist met near his studio located in Itaewon. The artist captures facial expressions and gestures typical of unspecified young people. Oh has captured people with distinct characteristics in groups, but in this series, the only distinguishing characteristic is that all of the figures are young people. In this exhibition, the artist tried to encompass people who cannot be categorized according to specific keywords defined by society. This is intended to reveal the anxiety of Koreans living in the contemporary era, not a specific group.
The Art Sonje Center has prepared the project space “Art Sonje File” to examine the past and present of the Art Sonje Center through its collections and previous programs. This project coincides with Left Face entitled Art Sonje File: Heinkuhn Oh, which presents part of Oh’s Ajumma series. The series was exhibited at the museum in 1999, attracting considerable attention in Korea as it reflected the social position of middle-aged Korean women who existed only behind their husbands and children. The series reveals the sense of isolation and insecurity these groups of women felt.
Through the medium of photography, Heinkuhn Oh (b. 1963) captures the characteristics of Koreans formed during the development of Korean society. Oh has held various solo exhibitions that reveal groups of Korean women at institutions, including Art Sonje Center in 1999, Ilmin Museum of Art in 2003, and Kukje Gallery in 2008. In his Gwangju Story series, he also portrayed the citizen performers and crowds at the filming site to examine discipline and violence.
Isaac Moon is an artist who has experimented with the history and methods of sculpture in various ways. In this exhibition, he contemplated the existence of a sculpture centered on the material of soil by observing the “mountains” and “rocks” of Seoul. The artist climbed the mountains in Seoul, such as Bukaksan, Bukhansan, and Inwangsan, inspected the rocks, and collected soil there.
The exhibition title reflects the literal meaning of the object and the action rather than a musical context. In one of his series, the artist overlaid the collected soil on a pre-made clay plate. These plates were made in an abstract form as opposed to reproducing the actual shape of the mountain. Using ink and paper used in traditional Korean calligraphy and painting, the artist improvises and quickly sketches the outlines of mountains. He then molds the clay plate based on the shape of these drawings. The plates intersect in various directions, resembling the placement of blocks. During the process, some parts are broken, or the front is twisted, creating three-dimensional sculptures.
The rough surfaces of the soil-covered pieces represent not only the mountains and rocks the artist observed but also evidence of the experience of visiting them and collecting soil. The work was created to visually reveal materiality so that the audience can perceive certain changes and movements through the visual characteristics of the surface rather than expressing the object as the massive materiality of mountains and rocks or as a physical experience containing a certain dynamic movement.
The artist’s works traverse Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, traditional Korean art, and modern ceramics, and while accompanying the labor of climbing, they also express the accumulated time and space of rocks. The core of the artist’s work is that he poses questions about sculpture from various perspectives by experimenting with the history and methodology of sculpture while expanding the connection to his previous works.
Isaac Moon (b. 1986) held solo exhibitions at Kumho Museum of Art (Seoul, 2021) and Factory 2 (Seoul, 2019). This year, he also participated in the Sculptural Impulse exhibition at the Buk-Seoul Museum of Art. He has also participated in other group exhibitions held at institutions, such as Platform L Contemporary Art Center (Seoul, 2019), Insa Art Space (Seoul, 2018), Doosan Gallery (Seoul, 2017), and has been a resident artist at Geumcheon Art Space, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture.
Cha Ji Ryang, who works with different media, expresses individuals in the social system. The exhibition dream Pop expresses the moment just after awakening from a dream. The artist organized an exhibition in which sounds and images express a mixture of fantasy and reality, taking into account the action of shoegazing, a phenomenon in which the body relaxes and immerses itself in something.
The exhibition space is divided in half using vertical blinds to create both open and closed areas. The works presented in this exhibition invite the viewer to forget the concept of “I” and experience sharing the gaze and memories of various subjects.
Among Cha’s works, the video installation work Surfing visualizes the waves in the exhibition space. The artist sent a video and music called “Surfing” to various people who are active in the art world, then gathered the images, objects, and writings they sent and created a beach installation. Another video work titled You are not here evokes the system of the art world by unraveling the artist’s thoughts on the art world through a monologue as if reading a letter.
Cha Ji Ryang (b. 1983) has held numerous solo exhibitions at Simincheong Sori Gallery (Seoul, 2021), Archive Bom (Seoul, 2018), and Space Can (Seoul, 2019). Cha has participated in group exhibitions at many art institutions, including the Busan Museum of Contemporary Art (Busan, 2022), the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (2021), the Seoul Museum of Art (2019), and Sahng-up Gallery (Seoul, 2019). She performed in various places, such as Germany’s ZK/U, Namsan Arts Center, Gyeonggi Creation Center, and Festival Bom.