The compositional stability between sculpture and painting; western and eastern; tradition and modern; black and white; accretion and deduction, all exhibit such meticulousness, radiating over the vacancy of the canvas frame and out into the space, demanding repeated viewings from the audience. Chun Kwang Young's work adopts a painterly role as two-dimensional surface in chorus with the triangular assemblages to perform the part of sculpture that in overall present a majestic enlightenment.
The impressive attentiveness Chun serves in his technical process underlies probable inspiration from the Korean Monochrome Art movement formed in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The movement in its similarity with Western Minimalism was also reinterpreted as 'Korean Minimalism.' However, the artists asserted their clear distinction as Korean Monochrome art practiced east asian philosophical paradigm, displaying the mentality of nothingness of Taoism. Lee Il a renowned critic and spokesperson for monochrome art, quoted 'The essential issue concerns what new possibilities the flat canvas as a work of art can present. Painting which reduce itself to a flat canvas, must assume a painted texture on the flat surface. Texturing of the plane, whether or not you fill the canvas with color or form, means that the color, form, and canvas exist on the same level, and so they enjoy a unified reality.' This unified reality traces the grand scale concept of Taoism; nothingness and unity with nature, which perhaps is felt through Chun's gracious yet intensive dexterity in his periodic procedure of wrapping triangular styrofoam in hanji (mulberry paper) (fig.1) from antique books, fastened together with knotted hanji rope. The repetitive movement becomes an enactment for meditation, where Chun empties him self in every production of the triangular assemblage, hence steadily transferring his energy and poetic monologues into the wrapped component, tracing himself within a space and spreading to the infinity of the canvas, thus, becoming one with his painting.
The minute assemblage is lyrically arranged as one but it also holds its unique intensity as an individual unit; in result supporting a cascading effect with kinetic light works. Chun's spectacular modulation classically mimics the traditions of chiaroscuro, stimulating a visual reflex by providing a convincing illusion of a wide spectrum of light. The quiet but forceful aesthetic vocabulary of the oeuvre offered in this evening sale seizes an immediate retinal excitement with its conceptual impressionism of a Korean landscape. With hyperbolic versatility in materials and scale, Chun dissolves repetitive units into one narrative space in a precise yet ambiguous assortment exhibiting various optical waves for the viewer. The negative and positive is synchronized in delicate articulation, exhibiting the flexibility in tension whether it be in smooth flat arrangement or in erratically angled arrangement; both evoking different styles of friction and shadow, hence staging a new three-dimensional space. Such intricate visual language is effectively accomplished due to Chun's geometric abstraction and systematic rigor that elucidate his deep-seated human drive.
The tightly weaved hanji into abstract composition metaphorically and physically manifest the weaving of the two central poles of tradition and modern; east and west, in which such opposites are harmonized in Taoism's equilibrium of dark and light; yin and yang. Reserving the sophistication of traditional ink painting, the artist consciously controls the natural shade of the antique hanji to illuminate the symbolism of spirituality and existence of light and also as a surface for all possibilities. His astute regulation of convex and concave in outstanding rhythm and angle emits realms of subtlety that shine the therapeutic sacredness of light. Saturated in monochrome, the dynamic texture is what generates the harmonious beam of transcendental illumination, expansive and intimate, appealing to our spirits. Emblem for truth, wisdom and purity of the heart, intangible light has been persistently allegorized as a universal religious motif. Chun captures this phenomenology and integrates it into his works to physically enlighten us with his subtle gradation of variable angles. By sharpening our optical awareness in offering a visual amusement and theatrical staging, he instructs his belief of empiricism, the philosophical concept that all knowledge is derived from the experiences of senses.
Chun continues to fuse perceptual and conceptual challenges in vastly poetic and mature maneuver. Despite his utilization of an antique book hanji, he coordinates a finely tuned balance of a black and white palette of traditional painting with his readymade mediums, only to reconfirm his sharp perspicacity of the significance of neutral colors in Korean tradition towards nature and spirituality and in his technical virtuosity in manipulating a readymade object.
Mulberry paper stands as a highly allegorical medium itself, containing customs, values, history, spirit and culture of Korea. Its extreme durability occupied as an essential material in daily and cultural life, gradually growing on the heart of Koreans as a symbol of emotional and spiritual experience. Chun awareness of its material history, the tension of order in arresting sequence becomes loosely suggestive of the manufacturing process of hanji paper from mulberry tree in Aggregation06-ap016 (Lot 170). The sociology of the object is amplified with the spectator's acquaintance with Chun's childhood where mulberry paper was the root of his creative capacity. His memory of herb paper bags dangling from the rafters at the herbal medicine dispensary in his hometown Hong Choen is what offered him the artistic perception and experience beyond the quotidian existence. Social tableau is interwoven intricately with changing horizon in which the shade and its fleeting light craft a geometric idiom, echoing Chun's great academic and aesthetic discipline. Interlocking his wisdom on life that fluctuates between exuberance and anxiety, the artist allegorizes this in production flux of modulated gradation of texture and shade of grey in this painting; overwhelming the spectator in spatial environment of his universe, he intensifies this encounter; evoking the comforting familiarity that mulberry paper carries with its translucent durability, in which this precise feature performs as a crucial role in displaying the mixture of traditional elegance and modern graphics that animate the pictorial plane. This musically conducted luminance is accentuated furthermore by the initial characteristic of mulberry paper in its ability to insulate, hence kindling a sense of nostalgia of the archaic Korean windows (fig.2), built of mulberry papers for transparent light and warmth. The tranquil gradation of negative and positive in this ouevre generates a genial temperature, radiating a rhythm of serenity and harmony that summons an intimate and personal quality of Chun's melancholy longing for the native land and cultural heritage. Reminiscing his past when he resided in Philadelphia for his studies, Chun brings back his crave he had of his homeland, subconsciously developing an ambiance of immense nostalgia in his creative production by employing all his native energy to avoid cultural confusion or temporal conundrum that his dislocation may have bestowed. Due to the rapid hybridization of cultures, traditional crafts and mediums are steadily subtracted from our everyday life. Chun contemplates this concern in detail orientated sensitivity towards subtle modulations of his surface plane that allegorize his conscious attempt to express the subtle changes of globalization where religious ethics and philosophy holds little control over contemporary society.
Chun's profound insight in sensing life's transience within the immensity of nature is clearly presented in describing infinity, time and space into a pictorial space with combination of precision and ambiguity in its sculptural landscape; resuscitating the memory of his childhood hidden deep in the structure of his intricate lattice of light and shadow. His devotion for tradition remains fundamentally intact despite his contemporary rendering of a traditional medium that trigger optical multiplicity, underpinning the power of perception and sensuality, consequently, leaving the audience to marvel in between knowledge and experience. Committed and respectful of his eastern wisdom, his feverish production merely reflects his acute self-cultivation and patience, revealing his past yearning for his home in Korea and his strive to preserve the past, wrapped in vital yet sophisticated montage.