Kyuchul Ahn: Drawn to the Rainbow

Kyuchul Ahn: Drawn to the Rainbow

Friday, November 8, 2013Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Seoul, South Korea

A Pencil and a Rainbow, a Key and a Piano

‘For as long as I can remember, poets who create great art have put me in awe and now I realized that I have too many pencils to create great art. Henceforth, I shall free all the other pencils from indefinite waiting except for the one I used this morning to scribble my thoughts. Maybe I’ve made up my mind to take all these just waiting with silent patience and holding the possibility of my whole career, out of my desk and drawls, into one work that is one shining rainbow.‘‘_Kyuchul Ahn

This monologue serving as a proclamation, one day he took all his pencils from drawls, everyday objects like used desks, sand, piano, cactus, from where those belong into exhibition hall. Thus his latest creations are; color pencils glued on one wood board titled “The Horizon in Mind,” conjoined desks with different sizes, heights, and usages into one even horizon with books smoothing out the outline called “The One and Only Table,” a metal device working in a circular motion, installed over sand to wipe out the vestige of whatever written on white sand called “Writing on Sand,” and pianist’s continued play when a key disappears each day called “Counterpoint.”

The works consisted of different materials and ingredients such as pencil, sand, desk, cactus, lamp to make one creation such as rainbow or horizon in their own way. Those follow the pattern of heterogeneous elements of same kind conflating into a homogeneous object. The study of the relationship between individual element and collective forms develops further in his architectural constructions made out of recycled doors such as “Room for Others(2006),” and “Abandoned Doors(2004).” Such individual elements represent individual human beings and when they are put together, it symbolizes our society. The exhibition has two opposite ways of demonstration. One way is to have the heterogeneous form a homogeneity, as explained above. The other way is to have the homogeneous turn to heterogeneous things. In latter case, it is demonstrated in the sharp contradiction of two different traits of two different objects which were once the same. “Twisted Fate of the Two” in which two identical cacti, one real and one casted out of bronze, stand together, “In Love” which is lighting installation, flashing at each other at odd moments reveals the illogical contradiction rising from same and different.

The context of these latest works traces back to his early phase in mid-1980s when he tried to blend his reflection on artist’s social function and criticism of social reality into his artworks. His method of piercing through essence of elements and indirectly contradicted the system of world and paradigm after his study in Germany is alive in his latest works, a kind of open interaction with viewers, and free from restricting its meanings and conclusions by the third party. At the very least, doubting the criteria which separates right from wrong, same from different, and individual from collective is a consistent agenda throughout his latest works. These dichotomies are re-aligned by him. Either through mixing binary relations or contrasting binary relations, tension, frustration, inertia, and doubts surface from penumbra. The results are never the perfect form. These are cacophonies which crack the structure and at the opposite end of the spectrum from classic aesthetic. At his 1999 solo exhibition, Nanjie Yun pointed his ‘hybrid persona’, dubbing him ‘an artist as a viewer, a viewer as an artist.’ The artist who borders on socialist art, modernism, and typical conceptual art calls himself ‘fence-sitter’ and keeps on seeking meanings nearby, encouraging viewers rather than settles into a fixed pattern as an established artist.

His reflection on obligation to create as an artist, persevering inquiry into society’s inconsistency and established logic are evoked in each time a viewer meets his art. On the first day of exhibition, there’s an empty, white wall of rainbow and a perfectly tuned piano. This tranquility and peace would soon be shaken and vibrating with unexpected lines and sounds by viewers and a pianist. Despite a piano is destined to complete silence with one key missing each day, we hear countless moments of cacophony in the process. Despite a random rainbow will appear by his drawing device, we witness unpredictable moments and unlikely events everyday in the process. With only the moments of a piano, after a month of play, being quiet and a rainbow hanging on the wall provided by the artist, all other elements of artworks are born and perish while exhibited. Little by little, this exhibition will create and reveal its significance through thoughtful conversation with objects and relation with others.

Somi Sim (Curator, Gallery Skape)