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The Messages from Korea

Nine contemporary visual artists practicing in Korea: Solim Cha, Jung Jong-Mee, Kim Dong-Chul,Kim Hye-Ran, Kim Hyun-Soo, Kim Sun-Doo, Park Young-Geun, Suh Yong and Yoo SunTai present an eclectic mix of work that explores Korean heritage and transforms traditional Korean techniques into modern-day mediums.

The show makes a reflective comment on what it means to be Korean through a variety of different techniques. Traditional materials such as Jang-ji paper, practices such as fresco painting and iconic Korean motifs such as Wild Grass serve to illustrate the way these artists balance contemporary concerns with an exploratory view of a cultural legacy. 

The subjects explored by the artists are no less significant than the materials and processes they adopt. Investigating the gender associations made in relation to objects; taking a subjective view of the past; attempting to express the intangible qualities of natural and organic matter; analysing the value of labour within the production of an art-work; and exploring the all pervading effects of codification are some of the thematic threads that run through this exhibition.

A collaboration between Future Factory at Nottingham Trent University and Duru Artspace Korea 

Cha Solim

Cha Solim’s work is created from an obsession with language and codification. The sewn work is indicative of text, but it is indecipherable; the ‘deliberate error’ points to the fallibility of communication through symbols and codes. The act of sewing is significant: the laboured performance creates its own semantic system.

Jung Jong-Mee

Jang-Ji is the basic material in the work of Jung Jong-Mee, which she combines with a laborious process as a way of honouring her cultural heritage. The bright and cheerful images, inspired by traditional Korean paintings, belie the physical graft that goes into each piece of work, as Jong-Mee grinds, soaks and pigments the paper that she creates. 

Kim Dong-Chul

Kim Dong-Chul’s paintings, though heavily suggestive of landscapes, provide a sense of nature rather than details of it. In an attempt to maximise emotional responses to natural phenomenon, Dong-Chul exchanges the specific for an evocative mix of form, shape and colour. 

Kim Hye-Ran

Combining domestically sourced wooden beams with textiles and needlework, Kim Hye-Ran creates coverings that embellish and become a part of the salvaged wood. Interested in gender associations, Hye-Ran juxtaposes masculine and feminine objects and uses needlework as a method of large scale construction.

Kim Hyun-Soo

Kim Hyun-Soo draws with pen on semi-transparent silk to create complex and detailed work that explores the transient nature of organic matter. Described as representing the sound of nature, the drawings highlight the cyclical and holistic connections between living things.

Kim Sun Doo

Using traditional paper, Jang-Ji, to create subtle blends of colour and glue, Doo attempts to express the driving force behind the lives of ordinary people. The abstract paintings, with their shifting perspectives, are suggestive of landscapes and often include the motif of wild grass that Doo uses as a metaphor for Korean people.

Pak Young-Guen

Pak Young-Guen has created an image genealogy to acknowledge and counteract the fact that an ‘objective history’ can eclipse subjective or personal history. The physical process involved in creating his work suggests an uncovering and rediscovery of the past.

Suh Yong

Seven years of studying frescoes first-hand has informed Suh Yong’s work, in which he looks to create a harmony between the past and the present. Yong has harnessed his knowledge of fresco technique and developed a new painting style incorporating metamorphosis and restructure.

Yoo Sun-Tai

Using acrylic on canvas to produce high-contrast, muted palette paintings, Yoo Sun-Tai momentarily suspends the difference between the real and the imagined by taking everything imaginary to be real. Sun-Tai suggests that his paintings are best viewed in a meditative state of mind.