P A U S E
From October 20 to November 10, Gallery BK Hannam will host Pause, a solo exhibition featuring Bongsang Yoo. Slim metal pins are his sole medium, but the massive clusters Yoo constructs with them inexplicably overrule the materiality of the individual metal units and trigger profound contemplations in the viewer’s mind.
Yoo’s works constantly change into countless new appearances depending on the intensity of lighting and the angle and location of the viewer’s gaze. The headless pins he uses, functioning akin to the pixels of a digital image, are so slim that one wonders if they could still belong to the category of nails. Yet, these pins are the only medium Yoo uses to construct his exquisite images — often scenes and forms that he has experienced or studied — working with great attention to sculpting each area into shape. He mainly presents abstracted landscapes in his works, and they reflect the immense dexterity and concentration he has honed over the years, the countless, laborious hours almost seeming to generate light from within.
Considering how there is practically no limit on what medium is used in the contemporary art market, Yoo’s metal pins could seem almost uncompetitive in terms of materiality. Still, critics have widely recognized his works as “sculptural paintings” that cannot be grouped into the traditional categories of painting and form a unique artistic realm of their own. The praise is perhaps deserved when we consider the vast amount of experiments with materials he has undergone over the years to arrive at the current practice and the countless trials and failures that started from his years studying overseas in France. In fact, one 145.5 × 112.1cm–large work from Yoo is made of 300,000 pins on average. The number alone is astounding, but the amount of labor required in placing each of those nails is difficult even to imagine. The Romania-born French sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) stated that when an artist has a repetitive practice in his art-making process, it is equivalent to a highly-focused spiritual practice and meditation aspiring toward enlightenment. In this context, we could assume Yoo’s “cluster of material” to be the orientation of his spiritual practice and the means for him to manifest his profound contemplations.
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), an epochal novelist, theorist, and a leading figure of 19th-century Russian literature, viewed that when the artist delivers his content to a third-person, there are moments where the two’s emotions are synchronized identically, and he viewed the experience as “true artistic activity.” This consists of two parts, the artist delivering his work by extending the realm of his artistic concepts and ideas and the viewer’s attitude and approach when he aesthetically recognizes and enjoys the individual characteristics of the work presented.
By themselves, metal pins are lifeless, cold objects, but after undergoing Yoo’s creative process, the standoffish materiality of metal is replaced by an aura that glues passersby on the spot and fixes their gaze. And when viewed a step closer, Yoo’s works present indescribable delight and moments of joy to our senses and intellect, bringing us to a pause — a moment of stop and rest. Manifestations of inconceivable hours of labor, his works spark inexplicable introspections within us and submerge us into the depths of our minds. Yet, despite the astonishment and appreciation brought to us by his mastery of the medium, Yoo only has one simple wish — to fully captivate the viewer with the refreshing excursion in his landscapes and provide him rest. And, in the gallery engulfed by his works, our job is simple: follow his invitation, engage his realm aesthetically and proactively, and take delight.
Min Choi, Managing Director, Gallery BK