A thousand small geometrical shapes form texture, relief and monochromatic gradients on the simple setting of a canvas. The works of Korean artist Chun Kwan Young strike one with their ingenuity and humbling nature.
Chun experimented with abstract expressionism in the 1970s in New York before moving towards his sculptural form series, Aggregation. Since 1994, his artistic creations have evolved around the assembly of a multitude of Styrofoam triangles wrapped in traditional Korean mulberry paper.
Melding his heritage with geometrical forms, Chun perpetuates the manufacture of hand-cut triangles into infinite propositions and never-ending equations. If the materiality of the canvases attracts and intrigues, the second layer of feelings it ignites is astonishment. Perhaps it is the washed colour, or the writings on the paper pages torn from old books, or the meticulously knotted thread around each triangle that produces memorabilia inscribed forever in the form of a piece of art. Mulberry paper has a translucent aspect hiding strength and longevity. It is a multi-purpose component to a household used in Korean homes to cover windows, doors, carpet floor and pack dried foods.
Chun, through the motifs of his works reminisces about his childhood and brings back the memories of the medicine packages clusters wrapped in mulberry paper hung from clinics’ ceilings. Swathed in the artist’s imagination, memories stand out on the canvases like a textured poem, recounting verses from the past, each angle abruptly and metaphorically symbolizing ebb and flows, and from afar, creating the illusion of harmony.
The sculptural forms are to be contemplated and meditated upon. As if in each little triangle were hiding secrets from the past, from ourselves, enclosing dreams, hopes and fears. Perfectly aligned and embedded, they nevertheless express disorder and fluctuations. They act as the mirror of ourselves, human beings evolving and participating in this world. We are created as perfect yet we carry our emotions in disarray, enveloped carefully and placed painstakingly in an order which only makes sense for ourselves.
Chun Kwan Young at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong (15 September – 26 October 2017)