Artist: Sooryeon Choe
Curator: Amano Taro (Japan)
Choe Sooryeon paints while paying particular attention to the Oriental aspect represented in the contemporary time as well as the way of which it is consumed.
On one hand, she partly doubts about the “Oriental” things regarded as old and strange values in the Korean society posterior to modernization. On the other hand, she is blindly fond of them, imagining and considering their utility again. Based on the conventional cliché images shared in North Asia, Choe Sooryeon focuses on depicting grief, women, gap from the reality, inner Orientalism, doubt, ignorance and the absurd through her painting.
Choe Sooryeon holds a BA in Paiting and an an MFA in Western Painting from Hongik University and Seoul National University, respectively. She has held a variety of solo exhibitions such as Drawing in the fog (2020, Sansumunhwa), Pictures for Use and Pleasure (2020, Incheon Art Platform), Music from a decaying country (2019, Cheongju Art Studio) and Music from a decaying country (2018, Onewwall Ejuheon). The artist also took part in a group exhibition of The stars below (2019, Sansumunhwa).
He is the curator in chief of Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino. Part-time lecturer at Tama Art University and Joshibi University of Art and Design. Member of association internationale des critiques d`art. After working at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, he has been involved in the planning of numerous domestic and international exhibitions at the Yokohama Museum of Art since 1987. He was the curator of the Yokohama Triennale 2005 (head of curatorial in 2011 and 2014), and director in chief of the Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 since 2018.
My first impression about these two artists like this. When I saw the works of KIM Bangjoo and CHOE Sooryeon, it seemed to me that they actually shared the same root. That root is the larger context of Korea. CHOE's concept is literally to review the historical and cultural traditions of Korea, and to see how traditional images are reproduced and consumed in Korean society. These words sum it up.
KIM's work, on the other hand, uses ping-pong as a motif, which at first glance seems to have nothing to do with Korean history or culture. However, as KIM himself says, pingpong in this case is not perceived as a game to be won or lost, but as a tool or medium for communication with others. This reminded me of the Korean game of tossing. For more information, please refer to the following.
「Pitch-pot (Chinese: Touhu, Korean: Tuho, Japanese: Tōko) is a traditional East Asian game that requires players to throw sticks from a set distance into a large, sometimes ornate, canister. "Pitch-pot" is a literal translation of the two Chinese characters in the name (as in "pitch it into the pot"), and is used in Sinological literature.
The game had originated by the Warring States period of China, probably invented by archers or soldiers as a pastime during idle periods. The game began as a game of skill or a drinking game at parties, but by the time it was described in a chapter of the Chinese Classic Book of Rites, it had acquired Confucian moral overtones. Initially popular among elites, it spread to other classes and remained popular in China until the end of the Qing Dynasty. During this time it also spread to Korea and Japan. Today, its popularity in Korea is highest. 」
Originally originating in China, it was introduced to Korea and Japan with the spread of Confucianism. Although there are elements of games, Pitch-pot is also regarded as an effective medium for the Confucian teaching of aversion to direct communication and the virtue of dialogue, for example, quoting freely from a shared poem. It is well known that ping-pong is one of the most popular sports in Germany, where KIM was a resident. Rather than focusing on the popularity of ping-pong , it is important to note that the acceptance of sports in Germany started with the system of enjoying various sports at sports clubs in each region, unlike Korea and Japan. In particular, it is not possible in the West to play the same sports throughout the year as in Japan, where they are positioned as extracurricular activities in schools. At the same time, this shows that sports are also a medium for communication.
It is through this medium that people unconsciously interact on a daily basis. Rather than meeting a friend and starting a conversation, we start a conversation over a cup of tea, for example. It can be quite a difficult task to imagine our daily life without various mediations. In KIM's video work, he shows himself playing ping-pong for a long time, but he does not indicate with whom he is playing. It could be us who are watching, or perhaps he is playing against a wall. In other words, it could be anyone, or anything, that he is playing with.
On the other hand, CHOE Sooryeon's work reminds us that culture is a tradition that is passed down historically. In this case, "right" means that it is legitimate, original, and unique. In this case, it is the variant that is early. This is in line with the recent corona scourge: "Even in the same species, there are various genetic variations among individuals, and the sum of these variations is called a variant. In the first place, it is the variation in the text that occurs when a manuscript is made from the original book at a time when there was no printing technology. Confucianism, which originated in China as mentioned above, has also developed different meanings in Korea and Japan where it spread. Confucianism in China, which was a religion, ended up functioning as a social system in Korea, and became an object of study in Japan, as an example of such dissimilarities.
CHOE seems to be focusing on the dissimilarities and changes that occur in the process of propagation rather than stubbornly adhering to tradition. What has been added and what has been dropped out, which may occur inadvertently or as deliberate work. In other words, they seem to be expressing what can be seen from the work of reviewing the meaning of the different books themselves in detail, rather than assuming that the different books are subordinate to the original.
I believe that the work of these two artists is significant in that it fundamentally reexamines the fragmented society of today.