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National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea

Exhibition Detail
The Secret Forest
Curated by: Chuyoung Lee
313 Gwangmyeong, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do
427-710 Seoul
Korea, Republic of


June 17th, 2012 - June 17th, 2012
Opening: 
June 17th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
 
,
© Courtesy of National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea
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> DESCRIPTION

As a thematic exhibition which consists of a selection of brilliant works from the collection of National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, The Secret Forest invites the visitors to the metaphorical world of life and death and healing and restoration built by the artists with deep insights into the being of nature. In a countless number of myths and legends, nature has long been the object of mystery and awe for humanity. Long before man set up for the dominator of this land and created civilization, nature has accompanied us while embracing both the beginnings and end of every form of life on earth. The faces of nature, sometimes irresistibly peaceful and other times mocking at the frivolous desires of human beings while exerting undefeatable power, has never ceased to inspire artists.
In the open spaces of the corridors on the second and third floors into which the sun lets its beams enter, the featured artworks in various forms including sculpture, new media and arts and crafts give forms to the times and images of nature, which is the object of secrecy and wonder. Strolling through this secret forest saturated with the mysteries of life, the visitors are blessed with a moment to be oblivious of the time and space of reality, which allows them to be within the ambit of deep pondering thoughts and self-reflection.

Dear you who is embarking on the voyage to the Secret Forest,
You are now about to pass by the 'silvery tree' with thousands of glittering feelers heading up to the sky and taking the first step to the realm to which the 'spirit of the forest' leads you. In the 'iron forest' in which rusty trees whose trunks entirely shielded with sharp pointed iron thorns, and it resembles our dreary world which has been threatened and terrified as its warmth of life has petered out. Do not let yourself to be afraid of the 'forest of tombs' which is permeated with the fear of death that dominates our minds and bodies. Without the existence of death, we would not have been able to be enlightened of the value of our precious life. The living 'flames of souls' are never to be extinguished even at the moment of the demise of our bodies.
     Your involuntary rushing into your own destruction in the depth of the mire of civilization that we have built is protected by Mother Nature as she nurses our wounds with her enigmatic 'healing' power. Look, there is the 'tree of life' that has been unobtrusively stretching itself towards the sky for eternity. Don't you feel the indefatigable force of life resurrecting from the 'black forest' of death in which everything has been burnt out? Having bred all the lives from the beginning of the world, the 'sun' is caressing us with its tender lays.
     Now, let yourself be exposed to the life force that is wriggling at the bottom of your soul. The tiny, tapering bud has put itself forth towards its future of becoming a big tree to cast its cool shade in which numerous souls will be allowed to comfortably rest.


Mimmo Paladino, <Baal>, 1986
     Mimmo Paladino (1948- ) is one of the leading artists of Italian 'Trans-Avantgarde' of the 1980s that opposed the formalistic emphasis of modernistic tendencies of the 1970s including Minimalism and Conceptual Art and was emphatic about the revival of painting through the figurative expression of traditional painting subjects such as history, myths and legends. He employed diverse art forms including painting, sculpture and print-making to convey the themes of life and death through intense and primitive images by use of legends and myths as motifs. His Baal deals with the god of the sun in an ancient Phoenician myth, which was at that time worshipped as the guardian deity of each city.
In the myths and legends of both the East and the West, most divinities have the form of the human being, and they control the living, aging, illness and death of man with their mighty dominating power over nature. Paladino's Baal well exemplifies the omnipotence and unfathomable power of the sun god through the simple and forceful and substantial lines within a circular frame.

Han KiChang, <The Garden of Roentgen>, 2003
     Han KiChang (1966- ) graduated from Chugye University for The Arts and the Graduate School of Korea University. In the early 1990s he was hospitalized due to a severe car accident. This experience has inspired Han to unfold his artistic interest in life, pain and healing through various forms of art. His 'The Garden of Roentgen' series, one of his major works, utilizes the Roentgen pictures of his body taken in 2001 for a large number of times in the hospital to which he was admitted for the removal of the pins from his body. The X-ray images plainly revealing the wounded body are reincarnated by Han's hands into living botanical images of trees, plants and flowers.
The revitalized force of life in these images corresponds to the hope for the healing of bodily and mental bruises. As the largest among his works, The Garden of Roentgen is imbued with mysticity by the light emanating through the in-between of the huge images of plants.

Whang InKie, <The Stork Village>, 1995
     Graduated from Seoul National University and the Graduate School of Pratt Institute in New York, Whang InKie (1951- ) is renowned for his works in which the elements of traditional Korean painting are reinterpreted through modern digital Lego-brick landscapes. Whang's art has been highly esteemed as evidenced by the fact that he was chosen as the Artist of The Year by National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea in 1997 and Arko Art Center in 2011.
His Whangsae Maul (The Stork Village, 1995) is one of his early works made during his pre-Lego block digital landscape period. During the period, Whang made large-scale landscapes in literati painting style in which letters and visual images put together by use of a variety of everyday materials such as nails and rivets on horizontally spread picture planes as in Eastern scroll paintings. Irrelevant of the concrete geographical name used in the title, Whang's intent to embody the ideas of traditional Eastern painting through modern modes of expression is eminently realized by the free scattering of abstract lines and the geometric lines of rivets.

Chung Kyoungyeun, <Black Hall 08-33, 08-46>, 2008 & <Untitled 85-1>, 1985
     Chung Kyoungyeun studied at Hongik University and graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and the Graduate School of Rhode Island School of Design in the U.S. Chung is well known for his large-scale arts and crafts installation pieces which utilize cotton gloves easily found in the everyday life. In Untitled 85-1(1985) the fingers of cotton gloves are elongated onto the floor as they are stretched like tree branches and running down like bines on the wall. The organic feeling of the voluminous stuffed gloves is intensified by his use of dye of light brown color. Chung's recent works use dyed gloves on canvas to explore into abstract painting with distinctive texture consisting of dots, lines and planes. Black Hall 08-33, 08-46 (2008) properly exemplifies the concept of this new creative attitude of his. The globularity of gloves and the title evidence his artistic extension of his previous three-dimensional works whose emphasis was attached to formal elements into the phase of more psychological and philosophical inquiries.

Byun Younmi, <La Forêt Noire>, 2008
     Byun Younmi (1964- ) graduated from Chugye University for The Arts and in 1994 went to Paris where she has lived and worked since. Byun's painting is characterized by vehement and aggressive expression. In 1999 Byun happened to witness the aftermath of a brutal typhoon that attacked the forest of Vincennes in Paris. The luridly devastated forest forced Byun to revisit the calamitous reality of life, and for over a decade since then this theme has captivated the artist.
     In front of her La Forêt Noire one is overwhelmed by the trees extending vertically as if they were to hide the sky and by the shattering intensity of gloomy colors eliminated of any annexed element. Its violent texture made of coffee grounds, sand, pigment and so forth much more vivify the fierce force of the 'black forest' that has endured its own stoic life and has quietly repaired its own injuries.

As a thematic exhibition which consists of a selection of brilliant works from the collection of National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, The Secret Forest invites the visitors to the metaphorical world of life and death and healing and restoration built by the artists with deep insights into the being of nature. In a countless number of myths and legends, nature has long been the object of mystery and awe for humanity. Long before man set up for the dominator of this land and created civilization, nature has accompanied us while embracing both the beginnings and end of every form of life on earth. The faces of nature, sometimes irresistibly peaceful and other times mocking at the frivolous desires of human beings while exerting undefeatable power, has never ceased to inspire artists.
In the open spaces of the corridors on the second and third floors into which the sun lets its beams enter, the featured artworks in various forms including sculpture, new media and arts and crafts give forms to the times and images of nature, which is the object of secrecy and wonder. Strolling through this secret forest saturated with the mysteries of life, the visitors are blessed with a moment to be oblivious of the time and space of reality, which allows them to be within the ambit of deep pondering thoughts and self-reflection.

Dear you who is embarking on the voyage to the Secret Forest,
You are now about to pass by the 'silvery tree' with thousands of glittering feelers heading up to the sky and taking the first step to the realm to which the 'spirit of the forest' leads you. In the 'iron forest' in which rusty trees whose trunks entirely shielded with sharp pointed iron thorns, and it resembles our dreary world which has been threatened and terrified as its warmth of life has petered out. Do not let yourself to be afraid of the 'forest of tombs' which is permeated with the fear of death that dominates our minds and bodies. Without the existence of death, we would not have been able to be enlightened of the value of our precious life. The living 'flames of souls' are never to be extinguished even at the moment of the demise of our bodies.
     Your involuntary rushing into your own destruction in the depth of the mire of civilization that we have built is protected by Mother Nature as she nurses our wounds with her enigmatic 'healing' power. Look, there is the 'tree of life' that has been unobtrusively stretching itself towards the sky for eternity. Don't you feel the indefatigable force of life resurrecting from the 'black forest' of death in which everything has been burnt out? Having bred all the lives from the beginning of the world, the 'sun' is caressing us with its tender lays.
     Now, let yourself be exposed to the life force that is wriggling at the bottom of your soul. The tiny, tapering bud has put itself forth towards its future of becoming a big tree to cast its cool shade in which numerous souls will be allowed to comfortably rest.


Mimmo Paladino, <Baal>, 1986
     Mimmo Paladino (1948- ) is one of the leading artists of Italian 'Trans-Avantgarde' of the 1980s that opposed the formalistic emphasis of modernistic tendencies of the 1970s including Minimalism and Conceptual Art and was emphatic about the revival of painting through the figurative expression of traditional painting subjects such as history, myths and legends. He employed diverse art forms including painting, sculpture and print-making to convey the themes of life and death through intense and primitive images by use of legends and myths as motifs. His Baal deals with the god of the sun in an ancient Phoenician myth, which was at that time worshipped as the guardian deity of each city.
In the myths and legends of both the East and the West, most divinities have the form of the human being, and they control the living, aging, illness and death of man with their mighty dominating power over nature. Paladino's Baal well exemplifies the omnipotence and unfathomable power of the sun god through the simple and forceful and substantial lines within a circular frame.

Han KiChang, <The Garden of Roentgen>, 2003
     Han KiChang (1966- ) graduated from Chugye University for The Arts and the Graduate School of Korea University. In the early 1990s he was hospitalized due to a severe car accident. This experience has inspired Han to unfold his artistic interest in life, pain and healing through various forms of art. His 'The Garden of Roentgen' series, one of his major works, utilizes the Roentgen pictures of his body taken in 2001 for a large number of times in the hospital to which he was admitted for the removal of the pins from his body. The X-ray images plainly revealing the wounded body are reincarnated by Han's hands into living botanical images of trees, plants and flowers.
The revitalized force of life in these images corresponds to the hope for the healing of bodily and mental bruises. As the largest among his works, The Garden of Roentgen is imbued with mysticity by the light emanating through the in-between of the huge images of plants.

Whang InKie, <The Stork Village>, 1995
     Graduated from Seoul National University and the Graduate School of Pratt Institute in New York, Whang InKie (1951- ) is renowned for his works in which the elements of traditional Korean painting are reinterpreted through modern digital Lego-brick landscapes. Whang's art has been highly esteemed as evidenced by the fact that he was chosen as the Artist of The Year by National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea in 1997 and Arko Art Center in 2011.
His Whangsae Maul (The Stork Village, 1995) is one of his early works made during his pre-Lego block digital landscape period. During the period, Whang made large-scale landscapes in literati painting style in which letters and visual images put together by use of a variety of everyday materials such as nails and rivets on horizontally spread picture planes as in Eastern scroll paintings. Irrelevant of the concrete geographical name used in the title, Whang's intent to embody the ideas of traditional Eastern painting through modern modes of expression is eminently realized by the free scattering of abstract lines and the geometric lines of rivets.

Chung Kyoungyeun, <Black Hall 08-33, 08-46>, 2008 & <Untitled 85-1>, 1985
     Chung Kyoungyeun studied at Hongik University and graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and the Graduate School of Rhode Island School of Design in the U.S. Chung is well known for his large-scale arts and crafts installation pieces which utilize cotton gloves easily found in the everyday life. In Untitled 85-1(1985) the fingers of cotton gloves are elongated onto the floor as they are stretched like tree branches and running down like bines on the wall. The organic feeling of the voluminous stuffed gloves is intensified by his use of dye of light brown color. Chung's recent works use dyed gloves on canvas to explore into abstract painting with distinctive texture consisting of dots, lines and planes. Black Hall 08-33, 08-46 (2008) properly exemplifies the concept of this new creative attitude of his. The globularity of gloves and the title evidence his artistic extension of his previous three-dimensional works whose emphasis was attached to formal elements into the phase of more psychological and philosophical inquiries.

Byun Younmi, <La Forêt Noire>, 2008
     Byun Younmi (1964- ) graduated from Chugye University for The Arts and in 1994 went to Paris where she has lived and worked since. Byun's painting is characterized by vehement and aggressive expression. In 1999 Byun happened to witness the aftermath of a brutal typhoon that attacked the forest of Vincennes in Paris. The luridly devastated forest forced Byun to revisit the calamitous reality of life, and for over a decade since then this theme has captivated the artist.
     In front of her La Forêt Noire one is overwhelmed by the trees extending vertically as if they were to hide the sky and by the shattering intensity of gloomy colors eliminated of any annexed element. Its violent texture made of coffee grounds, sand, pigment and so forth much more vivify the fierce force of the 'black forest' that has endured its own stoic life and has quietly repaired its own injuries.


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