Whether it be landscape or still life, perhaps it is that I shoot all things as if shooting a portrait. I portray the status, character, life dynamics, current sentiment, and face of whoever has become the subject of my camera. This is how I communicate with all beings of the world.
– Park Chan-wook
Kukje Gallery is pleased to present Your Faces, an exhibition of photographic works by the film director Park Chan-wook at its Busan space from October 1 through December 19, 2021. In 2016, Park published The Handmaiden Photo Book, a compilation of photographs that the artist shot on site throughout his production of the film The Handmaiden. In 2017, the Park Chan-wook theater opened at CGV Yongsan, at the entrance of which he has since then, up until the present, curated a rotating exhibition of six photographs under the title Pantheism. Having as such consistently shared his photographic works with the public, Your Faces marks Park’s first solo gallery exhibition devoted to still images. It will include thirty-one works selected from a new catalogue of his photographic works being published by Eulyoo Publishing to launch in time for the opening of the show. Installed in a gallery environment designed to best enhance the subjects and including both traditionally framed prints as well as lightboxes, the exhibition will provide a rich experience of physically meeting the photographs.
In her introductory essay for the exhibition, the editor of film magazine Cine 21 Haery Kim introduces the reader to the photographer Park Chan-wook, writing, “Here is a storyteller freed from the confinements of storytelling.” For a film director (in)famous for his meticulous preproduction planning, photography serves as a medium allowing him to communicate with the world through vastly different dynamics. Park places his photography the furthest away from the fate of filmmaking, for which even the most seemingly raw scenes involve intricately artificial designs. As an “antidote” to his experiences in filmmaking, as the artist describes his photography practice, coincidence and spontaneity play crucial roles in his photographs.
The gallery presents contemporary art of many forms, but the essence of what it seeks with each presentation is the same. We lean on the art(ist) to lend us a new set of eyes, a new perspective, through which to gauge the current world we navigate. Here, Park pushes us to persistently reassess the standards of beauty. Even the most mundane landscape of the everyday dons a different face each moment, and as we look into a photograph permanently documenting that fleeting instant, we discover an unfamiliar face of the most familiar object. Park, who as a commercial film director would have most astutely trained the ability to capture the sentiment of the times in his works, provides us the motive to proactively expand the realm of unexpected beauty within the most habitual scenes of our everyday.
As is noted in Kim’s essay, “Whether the object is a landscape, or a still life, or mere fragments that cannot be identified a specific name, Park Chan-wook manages to find out the eye of his subject. He makes eye contact and reads its face. He finds beauty in what does not seek to be beautiful and thus questions the boundary of beauty. For photographer Park Chan-wook, photogenic beauty is a fragile yet tenacious order that is veiled by the shadows of dominant value systems and conventional aesthetics, but that can be discovered with the aid of the camera if we are willing to briefly pause and respect the phenomenon itself.”