Kwang Young Chun
Kwang Young Chun, 2011

As part of Edinburgh Art Festival this summer, internationally renowned Korean artist Kwang Young Chun presents his first solo exhibition in Scotland at Dovecot Gallery. From 31 July to 26 September 2015 Chun’s AGGREGATIONS will be on display, uniting the traditions of making and Eastern philosophy with the artist’s painterly interest in American Abstract Expressionism.

Aggregation 06
Kwang Young Chun, Aggregation 06 – JN028, 2006, 250cm diameter, mixed media with Korean mulberry paper

4. JN028 detail
Kwang Young Chun, Aggregation 06 – JN028 detail, 2006, 250cm diameter, mixed media with Korean mulberry paper

After graduating with an MFA from Philadelphia College of Art in 1971, Chun spent 20 years interested in Abstract Expressionism as a medium to convey his personal turmoil with the divide between ideals and reality. Chun then sought a new way to communicate his art in a Korean sentiment. A childhood memory of mulberry paper medicine packages with name cards – hanging from the ceiling observed during a visit to a doctor practising Chinese medicine – sparked a significant shift in the artist’s trajectory from 2D to 3D making. By attaching small wrapped packages depicting Korean and Chinese characters to a flat surface, Chun had found a method by which to express his gestures and words. He has since constructed colourful and complex assemblages comprised of triangular forms in various sizes which he views as ‘basic units of information’ creating both harmony and conflict. They are cut from Polystyrene, wrapped in Korean mulberry paper and tied with hand-twisted mulberry paper string. Mulberry paper or ‘Hanji’ literally means “the paper of Korea”. Hanji is not simply paper; the strong vitality of the paper means it can be used in a multitude of ways. There is an old saying that paper lasts a thousand years and textiles (such as silk or hemp) last five hundred, reflecting the superior strength of paper over cloth.

Throughout his work, contrasts are continually apparent – between personal and mass produced, between soft organic forms and jagged cracked fragments, between the whole and its various parts held in perfect tension, and between the specific traditions of a culture and the international language of art. Aggregations bring together a series of works representing both the artist’s reconciliation with the Abstract Expressionism movement and a reflection on the history of human life.

Aggregation 13 NV045 RED
Kwang Young Chun, Aggregation 13 – NV045 RED, 2013, 163cm x 230cm, mixed media with Korean mulberry paper

Kwang Young Chun NV058
Kwang Young Chun 14 – NV058 (Dream 21), 2014, 163cm x 131cm, mixed media with Korean mulberry paper

Chun’s mindscapes have the appearance of quoting from textile – where repeat rhythms and rich and blended colours are combined in smaller elements to build up an overall pictorial whole. Dovecot Gallery seeks to promote the work of artists who share concerns for the touch of the human hand in making and crafting works of contemporary art. Chun highlights the areas of crossover and connection between expressive fine art with the detailed precision of lovingly crafted hand-made objects. The results are visually and texturally rich pieces whose immediate visual impact brings them completely into the present moment – belying the long hours of meticulous making and care that has gone into their construction.

AGGREGATIONS is open from 31 July to 26 September 2015 at Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh. For further details check Dovecot and see the full Edinburgh Art Festival programme here.

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