Once in a Lifetime

Chun Kwang Young’s Assemblage, at Art Plural Gallery

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 by Fitri Handa Yani, photos by Art Plural Gallery

Chun Kwang Young’s strong attachment to his Korean roots, apparent in his use of mulberry paper, was influenced by his traditional childhood. When he relocated to Philadelphia to pursue his Master’s in fine arts, he experienced a massive culture shock. His traditional values were slowly challenged in a capitalist country. The experience of crossing borders affects his artistic vision extensively.

Chun’s art pieces comprise myriad triangles painstakingly wrapped in mulberry paper (hanji), exploring the themes of conflict and memory. A closer look reveals a web of Korean words on the triangles. Mulberry paper was historically used in Korea to wrap medicine and food, and Chun’s use of this material is a comment on the conflict between past and present. In the words of the artist, ‘I think the thing I first saw [as a child] was my mother’s face, and then there was mulberry paper. This paper… is like the spirit and soul of Koreans.’

In Assemblage, Chun showcases the idea of conflict through his arrangement of triangles and colour schemes. Each triangular segment represents a unit of information, while the vertices of the triangle represent the clash of conflicting perceptions.



The works that grabbed my attention when I stepped into the gallery were ‘Aggregation 10 AU028’ and ‘Aggregation 10 AU029”. These are the works that Chun has dedicated to his deceased mother.

Unlike the rest of the art pieces, the arrangement of the triangles in these pieces is orderly and very structured. The rows of triangles resemble lines of words. Also, the colours in these pieces are calmer and softer. According to Chun, these two art works represent intimate messages to his mother. Instead of using words, emotions exude from the structure and the colours translate into coded messages for his mother’s spirit and soul.

The emotions ‘Aggregation 07 D132’ exudes are completely different from the calmness of the previous two. The triangles vary in size without any order or sequence. While I think the work expresses anger, others may sense passion. The different perceptions that viewers have strengthen the idea of conflict.

Chun’s art works exemplify the many contradictions in life — between past and present, urban and rural, progress and decay. Assemblage is an awe-inspiring exhibition that makes viewers realise the importance of embracing their roots. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!

The exhibition will run until 27 July 2013.
More information at http://www.artpluralgallery.com/