Chopping Play: Korean Art Now

Destruction and reconstruction are the driving force behind this thought-provoking exhibition. From broken porcelain parts remodeled to create a disfigured vase, to paintings that embed popular American cartoon characters on traditional Korean canvases, and a haunting installation of human-sized sculptures depicting life and death, Chopping Play: Korean Art Now challenges our perceptions of the everyday.
Recognized Korean artists, Gwon Osang, Shin Kiwoun, Son Donghyun, Yee Sookyung, Chung Suejin, and Chun Sungmyung each work in different mediums and techniques but all draw inspiration from the environment and materials around them for their work. As curator Kim Inseon explains, “I try to pick artists who play with their material and their own expression. I think creativity is not simply about making something new from nothing, but it comes from each one’s reference of their experience and environment.”
“Just as different chefs transform the same ingredients into surprisingly diverse dishes,” he says, “these six artists have fully utilized the environment and the materials given to them, to unfold an artistic world, unique to each of their respective backgrounds and emotional fabric.”
For instance, Gwon Osang marries photographic and sculptural elements, changing the characteristics of both mediums in the process. In his 2008 work Bazaar, Osang embedded photographs of a woman on a plain sculpture to create a surreal 3D piece.
“I express certain parts of urban life style,” explains Osang, “so instead of using material such as bronze, stone or wood, I make sculptures by using light material, and that is how the usage of photos came about.”
If Osang’s mix-media work challenges convention, Yee Sookyung’s work finds beauty in destruction. Using broken pieces of porcelain discarded by potters, she assembles them together and paints the cracks gold to create what are aptly titled “Translated Vases.” “I hope viewers can feel the beauty of life,” she says. “The perspective of life depends on what angle you look at. I experience this when the broken porcelain becomes beautiful when recreated.”
In the act of deconstructing and reassembling physical, spatial, and temporal elements, this exhibition provides an unorthodox visual stimulus that urges viewers to identify the “ingredients” rather than the “food” itself. As Inseon explains, “The hope is that the images that our eyes are familiar with will force us to re-evaluate and reconsider the here and now. Ask not what they have cooked up for you. Instead, focus on the ingredients and the unique recipes, and how the tastes and the aromas linger and transform the conventional and the accepted.”
Chopping Play: Korean Art Now is on through Feb 27, 10am at ION Art Gallery, 4/F ION, 2 Orchard Turn, 6238-8228. Free.