The exhibition features a wide range of medium and techniques such as painting, photography, print, ceramic, sculpture and installations produced by the nine contemporary artists who were selected from Gallery Korea’s annual open call program ‘Call for Artists 2008’. Essence of Absence, the fifth exhibition of a series, invites finalists to introduce their recent work
The dictionary meaning of ‘absence’ is the state of being away or the lack of something but artists use this in a way of expressing the contemporary life and on the contrary present powerful sense of presence through either material or thematic terms. Though the images or objects look empty or fragmented, and their work does not seem to possess any eye catching subject per se, they deliver their individual concerns in life and art in various ways.
Malin Abrahamsson’s mixed-media canvas works such as “Big Red” is showing an unspecific landscape with constructional element with a vague hint of an airplane in the background. Malin has been defining her life here in the United States as a foreigner in the state of ‘inbetweenness’ and has expressed this malady of contemporary emotion by constructing imagery which is scarcely occupied. Futaba Suzuki’s video installation is another piece expressing the emotional state of alienation and nomadic characteristic of contemporary life, especially inspired by the experience of leaving her home country of Japan and the differences of cultural values in foreign countries. Her “Chandelier room”, composed of a miniature house model and a video projection, presents both inside and outside images of the empty house, which leads a shaky and ominous mood and reflects the sense of confusion and instability.
Hong Seon Jang’s mixed-media installation “Black Forest” is referring to the concept of continuous growth, renewal, creation, and extinction of life forms in natural phenomena. The cut tree symbolizes two opposite sides: a petrified or fossilized wood meant to be death, and it later hosts new life. Every detail of this installation also represents five elements in the circular process of life and death : fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Likewise, Corey D’Augustine’s “Make-Up painting” is an example of encompassing difference of values. To quote the artist’s own words, “by highlighting the extraordinary qualities of everyday materials and the commonplace of fine materials”, Corey wants to erase the distinctions of two realms and to experience the material directly. Considering traditional medium of oil as something fixed, he creates his own medium made of more than twenty ingredients. Applying two coats of dark skin tone foundation on the canvas and then the color pigment on top, the artist transforms the industrial materials into the art medium by literally using the make-up process.
On the other hand, Ye Leen Lee and Ya Chu Kang try to investigate the other side of the reality we perceive in daily life. Ye Leen Lee’s photos of the streets of New York City are creating the questionable state of reality we face. The images are upside down, and the lower part is black and white, while the upper part of the water surface is color, which reflects the lower image. Thus it is confusing to tell which part is the actual one and which part is the reflected one. Ya Chu Kang also questions the reality in her mixed-media installation “Snow Coat”. Juxtaposing the plastic sheets of clothes and a photo taken in the snow field wearing them by herself, Ya Chu shows two different versions of the same object : one in the present and the other in the past. She also contrasts the two functions of both snow and clothes. Plastic coat without her is contradictory in that the regular function of clothes protecting and warming the body is not at all realized in this case.
Rina Y.Yoon and Hong-Ling Wee are referring to the complicated human relations through figurative images. Rina Y.Yoon’s scroll print series of “Mapping the body” portray a body as a way of finding identity. Inspired by the idea of a map as an abstraction used to guide one to fine a way, Yoon created the layers of bodies which are seen evolving and reshaping, and thus undergoing a continuous process of change – which is the process of self revelation. Hong-Ling Wee’s ceramic piece, “Lineage 34”, inspired by the simplicity of the soy sauce bottle, symbolizes lineage and family ties through ages. Smallest bottle is 1.5 inches tall and each subsequent bottle grows a quarter inch in height. Each vessel is intimately related to the two bottles adjacent to it and increasingly less related to those farther away. Much like, a person is very closely related to his/her parents or children; reaching less similarity to his/her grandparents. The installation expresses an alikeness that dilutes over generations.
Lynn Newcomb’s prints are based on her own sculptural works. Trained as a blacksmith and sculptor, Lynn regards printing and sculpting as being related to each other. As forged tools have an inherent beauty and muscularity, her black tone print series convey a simplistic and powerful formal language to the audience.
Gallery hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm from Monday through Friday. November 11 is closed to observe Veterans’ Day. For more information, contact Yu Jin Hwang, curator of Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service NY at 212-759-9550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.