It was about six years ago that I decided to do a study of green. I had fallen in love with the new leaves growing like fluffy clouds on hillside trees in spring. Someone said that it was because I was growing old. That may be so. As I took photos of the amazing variety of green colors, I thought that there was something I couldn’t quite capture using my camera. That is why I didn’t just leave the photos as they were but tried to paint over them for the first time in 2007. After trying out a few pieces, I used the same method to hold my exhibition “The House” in 2010.
My idea was also simple as I prepared this exhibition. It was to use any means possible to try and express the astonishingly diverse green colors of the trees in late April and early May. But, as my work progressed, my ideas became more and more complicated. They didn’t gain any depth or spark new ones but simply became complicated. For example, I would ask questions such as “How have humans been painting plants? And what was the background?” and even think of very old personal memories about green. Not only that, ideological platitudes such as green growth and green certification mixed with memories of my childhood playing with plants to end up as something incoherent.
This is why incoherence became the keyword for this exhibition. Come to think of it, incoherence is also the keyword for our age. Nothing, not even so-called great ideologies and religions, has saved this disaster of a human life. But men have known for a long time how to end such a life: reducing desire. But it can’t be put into practice. On the contrary, it feels that desire is becoming systematic, becoming more than a sociological phenomenon and becoming an acquired biological DNA. It almost seems like humans are programmed to live that way, at the risk of turning this into a rash biological fatalism.
Detective novels, crime novels and sci-fi novels, which are our epoch’s true prophetic writings, directly or metaphorically speak of humans. For example, it is interesting to note the way alien organisms are categorized by different stages in history in “The Voyage of the Space Beagle” by Alfred Elton van Vogt.
A historian aboard the spaceship infers that, since alien organisms that have the characteristics of early agricultural times instinctively put the preservation of the species above all else, they would do so even in critical situations. And he uses this inference to save the spaceship from an emergency. Apparently, it was influenced by the Toynbee’s Study of History. What if we applied this point of view to humans? At which stage would our civilization be? Would we be past the early agricultural stage? Or maybe the fact that we are living such incoherent, schizophrenic and foolish lives means that we have reached the self destruction stage?
In any case, study of green is a type of record that follows the walkway from the workroom up Mt. Bukhan. The main body consists of moving through small vegetable patches made by city people unable to let go of their farming instincts, rice paddies and crops to passing trees and forests to view the city from the top of the hill. However, drawings and installations were used to express memories and various thoughts of green that were still not fully expressed. Of course, this exhibition itself isn’t well organized. That was never really the intention anyway.
After reading what I have written so far, even this writing seems incoherent. But it is also a given that the writing and exhibition are incoherent. Isn’t it inevitable that an incoherent exhibition is born in an incoherent world?
Hong Gu Gang
Honggoo Kang studied painting at Hongik University though works primarily in the photographic medium. Kang takes digital images of landscapes and distorts the images to reflect the changes in Korean society. His most recent works utilize photos of his former home town in the throws of modernization and reconstruction. The works documenting his old neighborhood and its destruction portray the stark reality of post industrial Seoul. Kang was born in 1956 and currently lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He received his M.F.A. and B.A. from Hongik University. His work spans various media from photography, video, painting and site-specific installation work. His work has been exhibited extensively with recent shows at Mongin Art Center, the Rodin Gallery, Leeum (Samsung Museum of Art), the National Museum of Contemporary Art. He also writes extensively having published five books and a collection of essays.
Press release courtesy One And J. Gallery.