(1) Chun, Kwang-Young, "Aggregation 95-16," mixed media with hand-made Korean mulberry paper, 63 x 94 1/2", 1995.
(2) Han, Young-Sup, "Relation 9304," rubbing on hand-made mulberry paper, 50.4 x 100", 1993.
by Andy Brumer
(The Remba Gallery,West Hollywood,
hosting Galerie Bhak, Korea) Both of the Korean artists, Chun, Hwang-Young
and Han, Young-Sup, work exclusively with traditional hand-made Korean mulberry
paper, the properties of which provide each artist with a wide range of
stylistic and expressive options and possibilities.
Throughout Korea's history, mulberry paper, and its uses, has occupied a central place in daily and cultural life. It has also served as a charged symbol of emotional and spiritual experience, and as a conduit, almost, to the religious realm. The traditional Korean house was practically covered with mulberry paper, and many utensils and other objects were fabricated from it. It has also been used extensively as surfaces for writing, painting and calligraphy.
In pre-modern Korea, herb medicines were wrapped in white mulberry paper and were then hung along ceiling rafters to prevent dampness and to keep away insects. Chun, Kwang-Young, whose father was an herbal medicine doctor, has created works that evoke these dangling bags. More specifically, he has fabricated small triangles out of styrofoam and wrapped them with mulberry paper. Chun then fastens these objects with string to a canvas, creating evocative and beautiful relief works. The dense pattern that these objects form once attached to the canvas gracefully alternates between playfully opposed themes of chaos and order. Triangles. with intriguing Korean letters or characters faintly visible on the mullberry paper intersect, interact and intertwine with one another. These triangles have been fastened to the canvas one at a time in slightly different ways to thematically emphasize each element's individuality. However, in their gathering and placement together in such obsessively close proximity, the coated triangles coalesce with gestalt-like energy into a field of monolithic unity.
The work of Han, Young-Sup has been equally influenced by the properties of hand-made mulberry paper, and also displays the simplicity and emotional content inherent in the organic nature of the substance. Han works on a large scale employing the hand rubbing method, "depositing" bold yet elegant black markings across the surface of the mulberry paper. These works more than gently introduce a powerful emotional quality not unlike that of American abstract expressionism. His work, with massive pitch back strokes of the hand orchestrating themselves across the mulberry paper, forge an image that is at once rhythmic, daring and emotionally charged. Both a sense of "primitive" immediacy and sophisticated artistic restraint greet the viewer with a vibrant quality of assertiveness and confidence.
Both Chung, Kwang-Young and Han, Young-Sup seamlessly blend old and new conventions in works of impressive accomplishment. By embellishing the culturally "collective" material of their mulberry paper with markings and shapes of such personal originality these artists honor their past and invigorate the present with the living, pulsing perceptions of their own lives.