Marriage of in and out
The combination of structures that make up the internal and external spaces that seemingly cannot coexist, and the combination of the shadows that reflect the shape of the spaces are the characteristic of Kim Byung Joo’s architectural sculptures. The artist faithfully narrates his subject using all possibilities and technicalities that sculptural techniques display thereby giving realism and abstractness to his works at the same time. At a glance, Kim’s works seem to have directly borrowed from the architectural forms our eyes are so used to, but a scrutinizing look reveals paradoxical combinations of structures that appear to ambiguously suggest new spaces, but actually has systematic configuration within. Titles such as <Familiar Scene> and <Ambiguous Wall> typically represent the sculptor’s works with such characteristics.
Kim Byung Joo’s initial works began from the artist’s curiosity about closed spaces; infinitely numerous iron structures are welded to create grids which generate planes, which in turn make up invisible spaces that can be peered into from the netted formations in the grid. In all, these early works were closer to minimalistic architectural structures that focused on the void spaces. The sculptor has been focusing more on relief sculpture since his solo exhibition in 2013, in which he takes laser-cut architectural structures and reconstruct them on a uni-color boards to generate a harmonious and multi-dimensional architectural forms and spaces. His focus is on the spaces created by overlapping ambiguous lines without the distinction between the interior and the exterior. Kim continues to deal with spatial concepts with new perspectives; recently, he uses different colors for different layers to maximize the harmony of structures put together in a complex and fitting manner. This is not done in an impromptu fashion, either. The artist uses a computer program in the early stages to plan for colors and other basic matters, in an attempt to warm up for the main game. As the exposed form with a quiet existence combines with the hidden beauty to create an order of harmony and cadence that blooms, this process of change is born under a strict planning and strategizing by the creator, rather than instant intuition.
If the development of mass consumer culture was inevitable since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the repetition through duplication was another exit for the artists who were looking for a new form of expression. Aestheticians also published artistic theories of such era of mechanic circulation to legitimize such attempts by the artists. At the time, Walter Benjamin (a German philosopher, 1892-1940) understood “mass duplication” as a new way of exploring the origin of artistic works. Under this background, artists strategically utilized the artistic values of duplication and repetition, a typical example of which are pop art and minimalism. In the time to come, such duplicity and repetitiveness gradually came to be expressed in the overall society as well, and an example of such manifestation is architecture. Kim Byung Joo forms architectural images by arranging repeated lines or duplicating structures with the same form multiple times. Going further, he also uses duplication to maximize the visual elaboration and overlaps. Such process of re-production facilitates the handling of concepts about space from a new perspective.
While it is easy to show objects, it is difficult to hold the attention of the audience. The attention of viewers who first come across Kim Byung Joo’s <Ambiguous Wall> is busily focused on observing layers and layers of structures. The audience is left astonished by the external reality of the physical space and fascinated by the meditative space generated by the introspection of the viewership.
What drew the audience to Kim Byung Joo in this era of superfluous supply of contemporary arts? It is perhaps that although his works are not guised under rather difficult and complicated stories, they possess a power to hold and capture the attention through a certain familiarity generated by the expressions through familiar materials. Even though the viewers may not attempt to engage the works in a complicated manner nor understand the depth of the work, they have plenty to appreciate from the visual attraction these works bring.
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27 November, Friday, 7pm