ARARIO GALLERY Cheonan is holding the group exhibition of Korean artists, active both domestically and internationally and in their mid-30s to early 40s, titled The 13th Hesitation from 13 April 2021 to 8 May 2022.
The exhibition starts with the question whether people in their 'forties' are still full of anxiety and hesitation when facing reality. This is the generation born during the late 1970s to early and mid-1980s, Korea's greatest economic growth period, and they are now in the age group considered to have established the most stable foundation according to a verse in the Confucian Analects. Through this exhibition, ARARIO GALLERY will introduce the works of 13 contemporary artists to empathise with the various problems of reality faced by young people, and give out a consoling message.
Born at a time when the economic growth rate exceeded 10%, this generation grew up with rich cultural benefits from an early age. They naturally encountered various foreign cultures since childhood, most received university education, and are the first generation to actively utilize communication culture along with the spread of personal computers and the Internet. They are also the main consumers of various subcultures. However the reality that they reached at the age of 40 is quite different from that of their parents' generation. Taking in all kinds of social blows such as negative economic growth, the worst unemployment rate, soaring real estate prices, and an international pandemic, they are living a life that is somewhat distant from that of the baby boom generation who enjoyed the fruits of high growth which naturally lead to graduation, employment, marriage, purchasing homes, childbirth, and preparations for retirement. Standing on the grounds of a constantly fluctuating life, being the age of 40 in 2021 seems to be a state of barely being able to support your own body, situated in a cramped borderline between middle age and youth.
Through the works of LEE Jinju (b.1980), who digs into the structure of truth that exists in a way that cannot be explained in various aspects of life through a psychological landscape made up of pieces of memories or symbolic objects of everyday life, JWA Haesun (b.1984), who unfolds the repetitive and tedious moments of everyday life that ordinary people go through for livelihood in a dynamic panorama like a scene from a play, BAEK Heaven (b.1984), who focuses on how individual thoughts and labor constitute the logic of society surrounding us and deals with the various problems of our community through joyful images, photographs, and performances, etc., and JANG Jongwan (b.1983), who focuses on the human-centred society that stresses selfish rationality and the endless anxiety of modern mankind, and allegorically and wittily portrays human longing for salvation which is represented by utopia or heaven, the various relationships that affect the daily life of an individual, including those with family, colleagues, local community, and even humanity as a whole, and the process of distress, conflict, and resolution following them can be perceived.
The works of SIM Raejung (b.1983), who pours out compulsions and obsessions toward loneliness and anxiety, death and fear in black strokes, LEE Eunsil (b.1983), who depicts socially neglected taboos and deeply intrinsic desires using traditional themes of Korean painting in uncomfortable detail, and Insane PARK (b.1980), who pinpoints the social issue of collective conflict by using videos edited from pornography collected from the Internet and sexual codes based on his interest in media and images, challenge social conventions that still cling to outdated values and reject direct mention of human pain and pleasure which are part of natural life.
The artists DON Sunpil (b.1984), who dryly dismantles the objects and backgrounds that frequently appear in subcultures and the affection for them, and NOH Sangho(b.1986), who captures, crops, and edits the overflowing images found in SNS, and reproduces square images in large quantities, represent the typical millennial generation.
Lastly, KIM Inbai (b.1979), who maximises parts of the basic elements of sculpture, such as points, lines, planes, volume, and texture, to make the viewers face eccentric situations that seem familiar yet unfamiliar, and situated at the border of consciousness and unconsciousness, KOO Jiyoon (b.1982), who repeats the process of creating and eliminating lines, faces, and colours, which are pure formative elements of painting, and portrays the anxious people of the contemporary society in an abstract manner, AHN Jisan (b.1979), who attempts pictorial experiments by collaging images and making them into a three-dimensional model, and then painting them on a flat surface using hands, feet, brushes and so on based on his ontological interest in the relationship between the act of drawing and the real object, and BAEK Kyungho (b.1984), who releases his thoughts on the canvas and conducts various formative experiments dealing with the essence of painting, the viewers will be able to quietly follow the footsteps of these artists who explore the purity of art through traditional media in the rapidly changing flow of art today, where various genres and media cross.
The exhibition title The 13th Hesitation was taken from the work of the same name created by JANG Jongwan. Above the head of a donkey, which is hesitant because of the carrot right in front of its eyes, the number 13 is written in tally marks. It is a primitive recording method as used by the protagonist of the movie who spent day by day counting the dates while adrift on an uninhabited island. The artist says that each time he failed at something, he drew a line one by one. Was his 14th attempt a success? Was trying one more time meaningful? These can be seen as some of the common questions that all of the people who live in this era bear. This generation, who still hesitates and shakes even after passing the age that is considered not to be swayed by the storms of life, will be able to live their twenties for a second time standing between hesitation and excitement.
Press release courtesy Arario Gallery.