The Flexible Boundaries: Bae YoonHwan, Rho EunJoo, Kang CheolGyu, Lee UeSung, Rhee ChaeEun, Choi SooJung

12 January - 12 February 2022
Installation Views
Press release

Gallery Baton is pleased to announce The Flexible Boundaries, a group exhibition of works by 6 Korean artists, from 12th January to 12th February 2022 in Hannam-dong, Seoul.

The lexical definition of 'Fine Art' suggests only a vague boundary in broad terms. What practically matters in terms of ‘art’ and ‘artworks’—action and its results respectively—is producing a complete outcome. Although a variety of approaches and interpretations appear in the phase of criticism and appreciation and what the artworks indicate can be combined with social-political implications, these objectively belong to the territory of interpretation rather than creation.

In order to create a certain visual experience, artists’ creative motives and ideas need to be intertwined with physical elements—media or materials. Thus, the physical limits inevitably follow throughout the process of creation. The framework of ‘Visual Art’ often demands ‘moderation’ in artworks since they can not transcend general constraints such as weight, breadth and height perceived depending on standard scales of human bodies and feasible recognition ranges.

This exhibition has an omnibus structure presenting each result of challenging, accepting and breaking such limits by the six artists, Bae YoonHwan, Rho EunJoo, Kang CheolGyu, Lee UeSung, Rhee ChaeEun and Choi SooJung. What the audience could enjoy in the exhibition is a rhizomatic harmony achieved by different approaches; an extension and modification of fundamental limitations and properties of specific media (Choi SooJung, Lee UeSung); an investigation into possibilities of coexistence between fine art and particular messages (Bae YoonHwan, Kang CheolGyu, Rhee ChaeEun); a new alternative of painting’s performative procedures (Rho EunJoo).

The signatures of previous works by Bae YoonHwan (b. 1983) were ingeniously rearranging apocryphal stories remaining in one’s subconscious mind and vividly describing them with rough brush strokes whereas he has brought personified animals in his new work to create a witty yet eccentric ambience and subtly unveil a substantial context behind the surface. Sunbathing on the Ice (2021) depicting a raucous moment of a group of bears on a blue boat creates an impending tension caused by the composition dividing the upper and lower parts and movements of the subjects embodied in dynamic strokes.

Having his novelist’s career, the way Kang CheolGyu (b. 1990) unfolds his narratives and motifs onto canvases has similarities with how he writes a novel. By selecting painting as a mediator, Kang allows the characters and their surroundings in his practice to penetrate into the unknown realm beyond language constructing a delicate hierarchy. Penetration (2021) whose four parts are vertically juxtaposed deals with a sensitive issue of the forest’s development and destruction depending on the change of seasons and time lapse with his detailed expression. The sequences show interaction among sophisticatedly arrayed separate sections and the flows of the climax as though they established a condensed storyline of a novel.

Rhee ChaeEun (b. 1979) has been concentrating on selecting social phenomena of the contemporary society where she belongs and the dynamics of its members to reflect them onto her paintings. While her previous works had several traits of ‘reportage’, she has recently experimented on an organic combination of the depicted scenes’ allegorical compositions with all-over painting techniques through consistent observation and subjective investigation on the style of paintings in the Renaissance. In the case of Rainbow Wings (2021), Rhee adopts the upper half figure of the Angel Gabriel in The Annunciation (1434-36) by Jan van Eyck; she manages to not only maintain the technical details of the original work but also reveal the contemporary aspects by employing dramatic formations evoking the cropped layout and applying the effect of air-brush.

Choi SooJung (b. 1977) has made recent advances in embroidering in color threads over shapes painted in acrylics on canvases since her time in the CAN Foundation Residency. She depicts a forest landscape where exotic plants grow; the scenery re-encoded on the basis of the RGB color mechanism still has the appearance of the original image while it is seen as three-dimensional causing an optical illusion in which the outlines are smudged. Refraction (2021) has an effect in which the spectrum of the images filtered into the three primary colors overlaps emphasizing a partial abstract impression. The extrusion of the integrated vivid embroidered lines in the irregular pattern from a stamen to a branch ultimately vitalizes the entire space of a canvas responding to rays of light.

Lee UeSung (b. 1982) has explored how each life of individuals has connected to the complex social structures and how art can raise some questions about the situation and address alternatives. The signature of his methodology is that he leaves the appearances of objects as they are however he dramatically shifts their intrinsic material characteristics. Benefiting from Dadaism’s tradition, these elaborately produced works deliver the artist’s point of view in a metaphorical manner. Thermo°layer (2019) displayed in a separate space facing aside the road represents the typical wall whose glass windows are framed in a grid arrangement at a glimpse, though the glass shapes are actually wax panels in the shape of air bubble sheets. Although this installation which can be categorized in Sol LeWitt’s concept of ‘Structure’ borrows the Ready-made format, it is paradoxically opposed to what the word fundamentally means.

Rho EunJoo (b. 1988) has sought to discover an alternative against the universality of painting’s performative process which allows impromptu and coincidences. Similar to the diorama form, Rho visualizes an assemblage of the objects whose identities are ambiguous according to what she observes after modeling the target images and their backgrounds which are the subjects of representation in order to demonstrate the context and probability of the space that the images occupy. Portrait-Day (2021) is a piece of oil paint-based work that consists of an artificial sky blue background and a white lump of oil paint supported by steel wires in the center of the entire plane. The back panel of the canvas’s right back side plays a role in extending the depth of the space and the thick pink borders are painted along the edges of the canvas as if it attempted to lock the objects in the represented space. The solid white flowers and the bough diagonally crossing the plane increase the sense of reality in the work.