Gallery Chosun Exhibition Preface – Woo Tae Kyung Solo Exhibition (2020)
Gallery Chosun hosted Painting of Drawings, a solo exhibition of the work of Woo Tae Kyung, from 29 July 2020 to 20 August 2020. Woo borrows images that focus on cellphones and the web, and uses these subjects as materials for her work, and he poses questions about the meaning of contemporary art, particularly in relation to where the barriers between the virtual realm and reality have been collapsed. For her second solo exhibition at Gallery Chosun, Woo presented 20 paintings, beginning with her series on fragments of drawings on the web, which were completed through her unique processing methods.
In her first solo exhibition in 2015, titled Parasitic Painting, the artist featured artworks that parasitized the photographs in her cellphone. Here, she printed parts of these photographs at intervals on the canvas. The prints were of a small size, and she completed her paintings by spontaneously filling the spaces between the images with oil paint. For her solo exhibition Tail Landscape at Gallery Chosun in 2017, she used a similar method, but she also found in social media the inspiration for a different method of expression. She borrowed keywords from hashtags on social media and printed related images in a small size all over the canvas. Once again, she filled the spaces between the images with oil paint and featured the paintings thus created. Her paintings were often described as "post-internet painting" and "digital-era painting," and they have been mentioned as in relation to the global contemporary trend of painting that has naturally emerges from within the generation of artists acclimated to the internet.
For this exhibition, the artist continued her previous interests while at the same time focusing on the idea of appropriating 'anonymous' drawing. The internet is not only filled with photographs, but also with a large variety of drawings made by different people. The artist borrows from these drawings and draws her own in a similar manner. Since the original creations were themselves drawings, the paintings in the exhibition feel much more "painterly." But the telltale signs that some elements were printed reveal the underlying mechanical process, and in her work, these serve as a point of interest in identifying the relations and differences between the printed elements and painted elements.
The exhibition underwent an interesting transition from the 7th of August. At this point the artist shifted the arrangement of certain pieces and thus changed the landscape of her exhibition.
In consequence, repeat visitors from the 8th of August and onward will find themselves visiting an exhibition for which the layout has been changed. Some paintings that had been set at an angle, with the corner pointing to the top, will be set upright, and paintings that had been hung upright might be set at an angle. Paintings that had been grouped together might be spread apart, and the spaces between the paintings might be adjusted. The artist found it interesting how the people who arranged her work at the exhibitions would judge the direction of a work based on the captions on the rear even though she does not specify a top and bottom of her work. Hence this time, she wanted to change around the arrangement of her work in the middle of the exhibition. Another characteristic that distinguished this exhibition from Woo's prior exhibitions is the inclusion of paintings with rather lengthy titles. While her earlier work either belonged to a series or were simply left untitled, this exhibition includes works with lengthy titles that are similar to riddles, such as The Golden Drawing Diary of a Beautiful Boy Old Man (2018). The title is a list of words that came to mind as Woo examined the drawings that she referred to for each painting. The images are not related, and so the title naturally takes the form of a nonsensical riddle.
This form of title, in its fragmented linkage, resembles how we communicate on social media. On the surface of this new generation of media, it appears as if we are all interconnected, but in truth, we communicate in fragments through our own remote feeds. Woo's brushstrokes, floating between the drawings that emerged through different people's feeds visualize this mode of communication while at the same time pose a question in regards to what is the appropriate form of painting in a world where this mode of communication has become the norm.
An Interview with Taekyung Woo
Siseup Kim, Curator at Gallery Chosun
This exhibition marks your third solo exhibition and it is your second exhibition with Gallery Chosun.
My third solo exhibition titled Painting of Drawings opens at Gallery Chosun this year, and follows the solo exhibition Tail Landscape in 2017 held at Gallery Chosun and Parasitic Painting held at Shinhan Gallery Gwanghwamun in 2015.
It seems that all of the exhibition titles reflect the unique processes involved in creating the artworks.
All exhibition titles of three solo exhibitions reflect my art-making processes. The exhibition title, Parasitic Painting, also reveals my attitudes and processes in making artworks. I made small prints on canvas using images taken with my mobile phone. Afterwards, I painted them in such a way that they filled the rest of the canvas, as if the images were duplicated in oil paint. I came up with this title that suggested a form of painting that lived in the images beyond the medium of painting. The exhibition, Tail Landscape, includes paintings based on a chain of associations. In the title, my process in which I search for words used in everyday life amongst hashtags on SNS, collect associated images, and then transform them into imagery for a painting, is revealed. Lastly, the title, Painting of Drawings, presents paintings made by the same processes of the last exhibition; however, the difference is that the searched target is drawing.
Tell me in detail how you started preparing for this exhibition, Painting of Drawings.
While the works in Tail Landscape began with keywords related to everyday life, the works in this exhibition started with images related to 'drawing.' I was thinking how paintings could also be shared object in virtual spaces such as on the internet or SNS (the most suitable space for looking uploading, and sharing numerous images). I myself also actively use the web as a way to share my works, especially as many things have been replaced by online alternatives due to COVID-19. Many works or exhibitions are now resented on virtual platforms. Even if we don't necessarily consider the Coronavirus situation, it seems that we have come to see the world through the virtual at a certain point. Without a distinction or concrete context, various kinds of paintings are arranged in online space beyond the limitations of real space. Tens of thousands of works are updated on the web every day, regardless of subject matter, theme, colour, and shape, etc. and without any restriction or censorship. So, I wanted to shed light on today's situation, where even a hand drawing is bound to be trapped between online and offline spaces. I painted through this process, where parts of various drawings found on the web were printed in small on the canvas and the remaining space between the printed images is filled with oil paint.
The titles of individual paintings are also interesting.
In the past exhibition, the paintings didn't have any specific titles. To hide the concepts of the artworks, I used the untitled convention, which made it more difficult for the audience to interpret the works. So, this time I made each title by connecting word fragments that related to the forms in the artwork. Looking at the different images that I collected to produce the artworks, I made a single word by linking the words that came across. Even though the word seems awkward and nonsensical, I thought that it would be interesting that the titles would have a similar collage-like form to the way the paintings themselves were made. Although the title does not directly explain the painting, I thought the audience could expand their interpretation through the words of the titles that list metonymically the actual materials for the painting.
The most unique part of the exhibition is that its presentation is changed during the exhibition period.
I am planning to change the display of the works in the middle of exhibition. So, practically the exhibition is divided into two parts. The works that form a conglomerate are scattered, on the other hand, the separated works are combined and conglomerated together. Some of the individual works are turned upside down or will hang in different angles.
What is the reason that you planned this set up?
I would like to think of display itself as part of the process of art making. When a painting is done and freed from the artist's hand, I think that it enters into a completely different phase. The audience offers different interpretations based on their own experiences and the artist cannot control the multiple interpretations generated by the audience. This situation makes it seem as though the artwork has a life of its own, freed from my hands. I wanted to actively apply this observation to the exhibition.
Despite having majored in painting, your works rely on the external elements beyond the medium of painting and still you don't abandon the medium of painting completely.
As you mentioned, my works rely on these extra-painterly elements. Printing on canvas is not necessarily a method of traditional painting. However, I think the meaning of the medium of painting itself is changing. 100 years ago, my paintings would not have been considered painting, but today it is absolutely considered as such. In my paintings, the hand-drawn parts and the mechanically printed parts coexist. I want these conflicts in heterogeneity to allow the audience to have various thoughts on how landscapes are processed today.
Do you have plans to pursue completely different mediums other than painting?
Above all, I would like to create variations on the work I am currently engaged in, moving in more interesting directions.
Text courtesy Gallery Chosun