Kim Sang Gyun: Kim Sang Gyun

11 December 2015 - 20 January 2016
Installation Views
Press release

Gallery Baton is pleased to present the solo exhibition of Kim Sang Gyun (b. 1967) from 11th December to 20th January 2016.


This solo show will reveal new sculptures and installations based upon external features of colonial architecture appeared in Gyeongseong (京城) during the Japanese occupation period, Seoul at present. Major government offices and commercial buildings of Neoclassicism style constructed by colonial rulers at city centres one after another not only had functional values and also played a visual role of propaganda monuments implying that Japanese imperialism with an advanced Western culture has led a separation from the old era. Such as Bank of Joseon supported by Ionic columns, Hwasin department emphasizing on the beauty of moderation and a sense of volume created by steel- concrete and stone and old Joseon hotel, these buildings made a stark contrast to Joseon Dynasty’s architecture represented by a tiled roof and timber and unintentionally operated as a social sign standing for the advent of a new epoch.


Kim pays attention to that photographic materials and actual colonial buildings rarely existing in old city centres evoke and represent painful recollections and traces of the totalitarian power’s invasion and exploitation that swept through East Asia including Korea in the beginning of 20th century. The artist initiates the work by sketching facades of the target buildings which are characterised as a decorative composition and design. On the basis of the sketches, he makes up the polystyrene moulds and pours grout into them. A piece is extracted throughout the casting process and the final work is completed by assembling the pieces. Due to the various forms of the facades, the outcome assumes the shape of cement relief in which high relief and low relief coexist.


The artist intends to explain how people recognise the past and systemise it through his working process in which a single sculpture is created by artificially arranging the pieces derived from outward appearances of diverse buildings. The visual mode of his artworks has a methodological similarity to the human cognition system; people memorise fragments of images randomly absorbed from various media as blurred shapes, instead of accurately ideating a specific era by projecting each individual clear imagery onto a mental picture in serial order.


While Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978, American), a pioneer in the field of contemporary art using architecture as a medium, tried to deconstruct the authority of city spaces and buildings in a perspective of Situationism by acts of 'Building Cuts', Kim’s works attempt to awaken people of the present-day to the appearance of the buildings that have disappeared by expansion of cities, industrialisation, and a loss of relative values. However his distinct strategy, 'Magnification­–Arrangement: adopting certain parts of facades and vertically and horizontally arraying them in a random way', shares Gordon’s philosophy since it dismantles the identity of the buildings and disobeys the authority of them rather than provoking nostalgia of the privileges which the buildings possessed at that time. In addition, employing concrete underlines the fact that buildings existing in current places are also artificial products inherently destined to have the same consequence with the buildings of the past.


Kim Sang Gyun completed BA and MA in Sculpture at Seoul University and also MFA at The State University of New York. He has actively kept presenting his works at main museums and galleries such as National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul Museum of Art, SungKok Museum and Ilmin Museum of Art.