Gyeong Yoon An

by Thursday, March 1, 2012

In my recent work I have focused on three projects: First is a sculpture series about icons, second a drawing series as a more narrative form of my practice, and third an installation series in which I try to combine the idea of abstract and figurative image through a mixed form of sculpture, installation and painting.

In my sculpture series <Icon _ Goddess>, I reinterpret the idea and image of an icon that we have already known, and represent it through an everyday material – magazine paper. Compared other materials more traditionally used in sculpture, I am drawn to magazine paper’s distinct characteristics – its lightness, fragility, variety of color, and the idea of its necessity and waste at the same time. I believe these attributes of magazine paper help me produce a contemporary image of an icon.

In developing a new idea and image of an icon I also aim to create a reflection of current society and culture, an opportunity to reconsider them through art work. To help build a new idea and image of an icon, I also include a modern object in the piece ? like the works <Ch e ri _ the birth of Venus> and <Thinker>. The object I add represents a symbol or a metaphor for the influence of capitalism and current culture and the value system on which they are based. This series has started around the subject of goddesses, but I am planning to expand it to more iconic subjects over time. It is important to me not to lose the aesthetic character in this series while creating my idea of a new icon. I try to maintain a sense of beauty in this work. Although my work in this series is inspired by traditional sculpture, it still has to be contemporary and reflect current culture and society. As a contemporary artist, I try to follow core traditions of sculpture from the past, while expanding the range of materials used, and merging ideas and images of different cultures in this work.


My drawing series represents a more figurative, communicative form of my practice. I draw inspiration for my drawings from art and history. A certain place or a place in my imagination and memory gives me an idea and feeling of an object, which can contain the feeling or give another possibility to the place. I express the concept in the abstract or through structure related to the space. In recent practice I have drawn reinterpretations of photographs, finding a connection between reality and a surreal object from the photograph, and building the object into that image, to create a new concept. This year I made two drawings: <without past or future> and <Bardo _ How things used to be, or ought to be. >. <Without past or future> was inspired by a book about Easter Island and a cliff palace at Mesa Verde in Colorado . There was a moment for the people of Easter Island when they were going to lose everything that they had built and learned in their culture, because of a disease carried by their own people who escaped out of slavery in Peru . The author describes this point as a moment ‘without past or future’. And I felt despair and a feeling of loss about that moment ?similar to the way that I felt about the cliff palace. So I wanted to draw an image of that feeling and developed it using an image of ruins in Warsaw after World War Ⅱ .

The drawing <Bardo _ How things used to be, or ought to be. > is similar to the work <Time is on my side> I created last year ? there is also an important relationship between the title and the image. ‘Bardo’ means a space or a gap between this world and a different world in Tibet . Through the image and the title I try to communicate my idea about the gap between the reality and the ideal world regarding the current situation in Tibet . I believe my drawing series allows me to communicate my ideas in a more narrative way and to effectively express different subjects and ideas I want to engage with through my work.

The third series I am working on is an installation series I have started in 2008. It started with the piece <Untitled a> in 2008, and developed into <G. Island> and <Black ship>in 2010. <untitled a> was the attempt of expanding my drawings into space, make them three-dimensional. This effort became an installation, combining sculpture and painting, and satisfying my attraction for the beauty o f inexplicable form and colors. Some experiences are difficult to explain. If it is hard to find exact words we may use metaphors. But some things are indescribable with language. I believe art allows us to express such indescribable things. Through this installation series I found that the function of metaphor in language and an abstract way of expression in art can be combined to expand human consciousness and mind. An inexplicable thing can create a metaphor (in language and art). I am fascinated that art is a metaphor, an opportunity to make a metaphor and it can be an object for a metaphor itself. And after we make a metaphor through art the effect that it created causes us to create another metaphor through language. Therefore becoming aware of art can create an endless circle of production of metaphors. Thus we can understand the importance of art in this expansion of consciousness.

Some things are indescribable with language, some feelings cannot be expressed, but those indescribable things exist; something in our consciousness, on the far side of our consciousness. And those uncertain, expandable, vague experiences can be expressed by art. And that is how we explain a part of consciousness beyond language. _ From my critical study

I also want to create inexplicable pieces, which can have inexplicable impressions on the viewer, who then can use metaphors in their heads and words to think and interpret my work. Similar to nature and music, there are no exact words to explain it. My installation series is divided into two directions. The first is preserving the free way of expression and my pure passion for the abstract beauty and color, as in <Untitled a> or <Black ship>. The second is to combine a figurative and an abstract image together in one piece to experiment with the possibility of translating the figurative idea or image into the abstract, like the work <For understanding the secret _ Time is on my side>. This idea originated from my old question: Which is more powerful and stimulating for our mind ? the unconscious or the conscious? Through that questioning I have understood the importance of both of them, and realized that a figurative image has more power to stimulate the unconscious. Because in our dreams we recreate feelings from the image of reality, even though we feel something abstract. To dream about something in an abstract way is very rare. In dream, we are the creators of our ideas, and we create them as figurative images, like reality. In consciousness, on the other hand, we can maintain abstract feelings and abstract ideas, and we can express them in abstract ways.

This interest in the different effects of figurative and abstract images has long been a subject for my work. Bringing them together now in one work is very exciting. In addition to exploring the abstract, I also try to develop this installation series because it allows me to be completely free and express my pure passion for the visual art, without having to respect culture, time, or anything else (unlike in the <Icon _ Goddess> series and my drawing series).

Gyeong Yoon An website.

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