Kukje Gallery is pleased to present 安寧 Farewell, a solo exhibition of Park Chan-kyong from May 25 to July 2, 2017. Park’s work examines Korean society, framing the rapid socio-economic development of the past century while chronicling the often reckless pursuit of Western modernization and economic growth, through subjects including the Cold War and traditional Korean religions. The exhibition, his first solo show in Korea in five years, features thirteen new works including a video-audio work, Citizen’s Forest (2016), a collage of reproduced images of existing artworks titled Small Art History 1-2 (2014/2017), a multi-channel slide projection of photographs, Way to the Seung-ga Temple (2017), as well as serial objects Bright Stars (2017) and Seven Stars (2017), which embody the artist’s keen observations and critique of tradition.
A centerpiece of the exhibition is Citizen’s Forest, a panoramic three-channel video presented like a traditional “shan-su (landscape)” scroll painting. The work is a critical allegory of Korean modern history as well as a requiem for the many nameless people who sacrificed their lives during those tumultuous periods. Park was inspired by two works: the poem Colossal Roots (1964) by Kim Soo-young (1921 – 1968) and the painting The Lemures (1984) by Oh Yoon (1946 – 1986), the former, which embodied a modern idea that was new yet poignantly reflected on tradition, and the latter, an artwork that successfully adopted folk religions as a channel to communicate and empathize with the public.
In addition, 安寧 Farewell showcases the artist’s recent works underlining his ongoing quest for tradition and history in various formats. In Small Art History 1-2, Park recreates his own version of art history by reconfiguring select artworks across the ages bridging the East and the West. Using the discourses on the aesthetics of the sublime, art institutions, appropriation, photography with texts, and East Asian culture and history as an axis, he studiously avoids a chronological narrative of art history or the false categorization of the East and the West. By doing so, Small Art History 1-2 questions the underlying criteria of conventional art history while at the same time critiquing and celebrating their inherent falsehoods.
Way to the Seung-ga Temple, exhibited on the second floor, is a sequel to Citizen’s Forest and Small Art History and documents the road to the Seung-ga temple in Mt. Bukhan using an idiom of the amateur landscape photographs taken with slide film. If Citizen’s Forest is a dark and brooding atmospheric black and white video, Way to the Seung-ga Temple is colorful and picturesque. Suggesting an ideal scenery picture that is artificially staged, Park appeals to the unique sentimentalism shared by himself and many Koreans, which oscillates between “kitsch” and “Hwaeom (majestic splendor).” On the same floor, the works Bright Stars and Seven Stars bring images of shamanic cosmology with Myeongdu, tool used by shamans to decorate their shrines. In these works, the artist relates tradition to “physical memory” or “tradition-real”, rather than simply a sign or style.
About the Artist
Park Chan-kyong (b. 1965) is a media artist, film director and writer. He graduated from Seoul National University in 1988 with a BFA in Painting, and the California Institute of the Arts with a MFA in Photography in 1995. Park served as the Artistic Director of the SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul in 2014. His major works include Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits (2013), Night Fishing (2011, co-directed by Park Chan-wook), Sindoan (2008), Power Passage (2004) and Sets (2000). Park’s work has been exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017), Taipei Biennial (2016), Anyang Public Art Project (2016), Iniva, London (2015), Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2013), and Atelier Hermès, Seoul (2008, 2012). Park was awarded the Hermès Korea Art Award in 2004, and the Golden Bear for best short film at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011 for Night Fishing. His works are included in the collection of major art institutions, such as the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; KADIST, Paris and San Francisco; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Seoul Museum of Art; Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan; and Art Sonje Center, Seoul.