CUAM- Keeping it Real-Exhibition Paper Ryan Baker

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Ryan Baker

Arth  3539

CUAM- Keeping it Real

Personally, there is nothing more fulfilling and life changing than going to a museum and taking in the beauty and passion of the artworks.  I have always gained a certain ardor towards museums and their collections and have had the opportunity to experience many different exhibits all over the world.  I found that I couldn’t just choose one exhibit so I visited the Denver Art Museum and MCA Denver, but most recently saw the exhibit at the CU Art Museum.  Something about the different mediums and ideas portrayed by the Korean artists really intrigued me and made me continuously rethink and discover new things about the pieces.  The exhibition was, Keeping it Real, Korean Artists in the Age of Multi-Media Representation.  I spent a fair amount of time breaking down and just absorbing most of these pieces and seeing what they would reveal to me.  The artists that really caught my eye were Yong-ho Ji, Yeondoo Jung, and Kiwoun Shin.  I strongly feel they expressed such great ideas and concepts on materialization and industrialization, and how our culture is getting caught up in this hub of multi-media and consumption.

As I first stepped foot into the exhibition, the first thing that caught my eye was a majestically black creature in a very sneaky, confronting, and fear-provoking pose.  This was a sculpture titled “Jaguar 4, 2008” by 33-year-old artist Yong-ho Ji.  Yong-Ho Ji received his B.F.A. in Sculpture at the Hongik University in Seoul, in 2005, and then in 2008, he received his M.F.A. in Fine Arts at New York University.  My first impression of this beast was one of awe, and I noticed that as I approached it, I did so with caution as if I needed to be gentle so I wouldn’t startle the creature and give it reason to attack.  It was a very large Jaguar with a pose ready to strike at anyone who came near.  What really impressed me and allowed the realistic look and effect was the material used to make it. Ji used slices of black tire, which conformed and showed every little muscle and realistic aspect of the animal that you would see in the wild.  The rubber tire made so many detailed layers and shapes in the jaguar and allowed to take such a provocative form.  Also by having it in the middle of the room I thought gave it much more of a daunting presence in the room.  I was contemplating the meaning behind making this beast with black rubber tire, and came up with maybe the concept of how rubber is a non biodegradable object and that fact that there is so much that is thrown away and is critically affecting our environment.  The way that he made the jaguar come to life, and gave it such realistic and humble expressions that made it terrifying yet surprisingly at peace.  The tire is a symbol of how we as a society are obsessed with all of this production and are continually dismissing nature.  I thought it was an ingenious way to represent our wastefulness in a form that is frightening yet very intriguing to the viewer.  Ji grew up in a small rural town in Seoul, South Korea, and found his inspiration through a sense of ecological responsibility to preserve the natural world.  He was working in a studio, and also is an artist residency through the Gana Art Gallery, in the Chelsea district in New York City.  He wanted the sculptures to represent warning that with the way we keep domesticating animals, and ruining their habitat, that we will lose the ability to view these animals in their pure and natural state.  Ji see his work as mutations, or mutants that he has created to really showcase how interconnected industrialization and environmental degradation is.  Another very important topic that Ji is representing is the danger genetically modified organisms and how we are continually using them without thinking of the consequences.  Ji felt that he had a deep sense of ecological responsibility that was interconnected with his fascination with tires as a material for correctly expressing this link with the world we live in.  I believe that Yong-Ho Ji provided a very new and clever way of bringing forth the controversial topic that we destroying the environment.  He lets us see two completely different sides of this beautiful animal that is posed ready to strike.

The next piece that really caught my attention was a series of photographs by Yeondoo Jung.  When I view a collection, I usually will spend some time looking over and contemplating the works before I look at the caption and explanation of it.  I was very excited that I did it with this collection because I mostly figured out in my own way what the artist was ultimately trying to convey.  They were seven very large prints which were images of people camping that were on the verge of being a snapshot, but with much more quality and thought put into it.  Being a photographer as well, what really struck me with awe was the lighting because it gave off the sense that it was natural but there was a glowing and mesmerizing glow to it.  The photos have a transcendental look and feeling to them that seems somewhat ominous, like there is something lurking in the dark.  There seems to be foreshadowing happening for this event that all these young people are in danger some how.  When you look at these you can tell after a few moments of contemplation that they are staged just to the perfect setting and moment.  Yeondoo Jung was born in Jinju, Korea, and currently lives and works in Seoul, Korea.  In 1997 Jung graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College in London, United Kingdom.  Jung is an avid outdoorsman who has been climbing and hiking all his life, and made these images as personal reflections of his memories outdoors.  He spent a lot of time staging these photos so that they contradict our perceptions of thinking it as being a snapshot, when they are actually very intricate and well thought out photos.  He has really captured a magical moment that I have always been trying to do in my photographs, to create a surreal image representing a memory.  Jung has portrayed this idea in such a unique and realistic way, that when I look at them the memory seems to be imprinted in my own head. I love the way he has captured the look of a fleeting memory with the slight orange glow in the photos, which make it seem so real and beautiful.

The piece that I found very strong and moving was “Approach the truth- Astro Boy, 2006” by Kiwoun Shin.  This was an installation piece that continuously, on a flat screen television, showed a toy of Astro Boy being ground down by a sander until it was nothing but dust.  I watched the clip of this happening over and over and didn’t get bored even though it wasn’t sped up or anything.  I loved the idea of grinding down these consumer products into dust and how it just reappears perfect and new, only to be ground down again.  Shin is portraying the Buddhist ideals of how everything exists and is created, dead, then empty.  Even material things which we now worship sometimes more than each other has this effect and follows the same principles.  Jung uses these child toys to represent how much we rely on material objects in our consumer-material based culture

I loved this exhibition and the way it made me really think about life and how our culture is shaping it.  The pieces of art gave me the feeling of contemplating reality against fantasy, because so many of them were right on the edge. Yong-Ho Ji’s jaguar is something that I will never forget because of the way it made me feel. The raw look of this wild beast in a menacing pose came of as frightening yet curious and tame.  I was conflicted on how to react to it which just bewildered me and made me very happy to get this feeling from art.  Every artist in the exhibition did this in a certain way, where I felt as if I was learning something new about life and myself.  These Korean artists have a certain touch with their artwork, and I have noticed when reading some of the artist statements that they take a lot of ideal from Buddhism and implement these ideals into there artwork.  I definitely felt that was reflected from the artwork because of the sensational feelings of serene and piece of mind that I gained after leaving the exhibition.

One Response

  1. Great paper! Your passion for art and this exhibition really came through in your writing. I think you organized your thoughts well and I really liked your analysis of the deeper meaning of the works. Your vivid description of Yeondoo Jung’s pictures was awesome and made me feel like I could experience his pictures, or at least the effects they produce just by reading what your wrote. Overall, this was a great paper with very good connections between description, personal interpretation, and understanding of the artists.

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