In August, 2011, LA Artcore’s Brewery Annex welcomed the work of one of the most important contemporary artists from Korea, Cha Ki-Youl. Over 25 years exhibiting internationally, this artist captures and explores the conceived tension between nature and human society with deeply developed consideration that is instantly apparent in his works. He seeks to arrive visually at rooted human values by contemplating the influences of time, the universal elements and the natural world have in our endeavors, infusing his art with a pronounced philosophical motivation.
The artist blends natural and man-made materials in his paintings and sculpture and integrates them into open spaces – whether marks on the surface of paper, concentric circles painted on a gallery floor emanating from a one-pointed footprint beneath a suspended entanglement of form, or integrated display compartments containing artifacts within floor sculptures that evoke architectural elements, lanterns and archeological exhibits. His work finds a harmony between organic and man-made, object and surrounding, creating with the tension a confirmation of his feeling that nature does not conflict with human civilization, rather humans are part of nature.
Cha Ki-Youl’s idea of art is integrated with his questions about memory, human values, and the way we experience our world through perception and mental effort. He considers a work of art to be the meeting point of three elements; personal memories and emotions, penetrating discourse and the philosophy of our age, and an established conceptual territory that communicates, and all are necessary to meet this measure. He also contends that art’s center is found in the visual pleasure we find in nature’s random forms. This paradox of strict principles and flexible receptivity is the very wealth after which the artist mentally labors, and is also the root of human values.
Cha Ki-Youl finds this rooting of values is due to our own natural way of involving our self in everything that we perceive. From nature’s example, using our abilities of memory and perception, we intuitively include conditions of change and flow that reach beyond the immediately apparent information our senses receive. Our immediate experience of the world then is additionally shaped by paradoxes that we create - absence and presence, creation and extinction. The artist works steadily like an archeologist – one of his famous subject matters – seeking the innate form within himself, the original of which he considers an undecipherable destination that exists within human intuition, ever mixed with an active exchange between memory and the present.
Contemplating the role of self in our perceptions, while he sees his works as excavations seeking values that are universal in nature, he also discovers that the same values face constant erosion as we move through experience. New things appear daily that wash over our indifference to what is disappearing, including social values such as a prudent and sober viewpoint. The exploration of this matured gracefully in his exhibit at the 2010 Busan Biennale, entitled “The journey of circulation / a period between (Ark & Kangmok)”. The circulation he described represents the never ending cycle of birth and death, referred to in Buddhism as the ‘transmigration of the soul’, within which he described his work as “the track marks of ideas […] within a magnificent temporal axis”. Without question, this artist will bring us thoughtful works to consider.
The artist unexpectedly had to return to South Korea the night before his reception. We all managed to benefit from this, as the artist prepared an exceptional video statement about his exhibit.
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