Pilar Corrias is pleased to present Koo Jeong A's solo exhibition, Magnet Cities, which represents a culmination of the artist's ten-year exploration into the formal, conceptual, medicinal and architectural properties of ferrite magnets. This ongoing series was initiated from Koo's experiences meeting and conversing with Dr. Koo Bon Sea in Korea and English architect, Cedric Price. Each of these individuals focuses their own investigations into the possibilities of magnets and magnetic fields. The artist's experience meeting these two individuals became the trajectory for her own exploration into the conceptual potential of magnets and the employment of magnets as a sculptural medium.
This series of works evolved through the artist's research into Cedric Price's unrealised project, Magnet (1997), which employed 'anticipatory architecture', where public amenities would stimulate patterns of public movement. Magnets for Price function as a conceptual framework and metaphor for thinking about city planning and for emancipating destitute architectural sites. This conceptual thinking about magnetic fields, enacted by Price influenced Koo to examine and think critically about the formal properties of magnets themselves.
Koo's various magnet sculptures and reliefs are all made from pre-cut sized magnets, they are generic and can be purchased by anyone. By employing these standard sized, easily accessible magnets, Koo, like Cedric Price began her work through an examination of that which is overlooked or abandoned. These commonplace magnets are arranged and manipulated by the artist, as she tests and ultimately illuminates the creative capacities within this seemingly basic material.
Each work begins with a set number of ferrite magnets. It is the number of magnets that dictate the way in which the sculptures and reliefs are arranged and constructed. Influenced by the theories of Pythagoras, the artist approaches these works where the number is the ruler of form and idea and is the trajectory for how she thinks about and produces the works. While the artist has arranged all the pieces specifically, they can be re-arranged into various alternative configurations. By leaving the capabilities of this material open to manipulation, the artist is uniquely gesturing to the powerful kinetic faculties that exist within this medium.
Many of these magnet sculptures have been painted in a hammered blue and constructed into walls and grids. Positioning and displaying the magnets in this way signifies the artist's fascination with the force and power of this material. The paintings that Koo has created throughout this series involve applying a layer of magnetic paint underneath a solid primary colour and then smashing her magnets to produce a series of shards. These shards are then placed onto the painted canvases. Like the flexible layouts of the sculptures, the magnet shards on these paintings can also be moved around or re-arranged.
Since the early 1990s, Koo Jeong A has made works that are seemingly casual and commonplace, yet at the same time remarkably precise, deliberate, and considered. Her reflections on the senses and the body incorporate objects, still and moving images, audio elements, and aromas. Many of her works are conceived within site-specific environments that question the limits of fact and fiction, the imaginary and actuality of our world. Koo considers the connection of energies between a place and people, relying on chance to drive her encounters.
Koo Jeong A was born in 1967 in Seoul, Korea. She has been named 2016 Artist of the Year by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, celebrated with a solo exhibition in London in October 2016. Recent solo exhibitions and commissions of her work include: ajeongkoo, Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2017); Enigma of Beginnings, Yuz Project Room at Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2016); Koo Jeong A x Wheelscape: Evertro, Everton Park, Liverpool (2015); Annual Journey, Pilar Corrias, London (2015); Oussser, Fondazione La Raia, Novi Ligure (2014); Koo Jeong A: 16:07, Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (2012); OTRO, Centre international d'art et du paysageIle de Vassivière, Vassivière (2011); E opened his eyes he is now walking, CCA KITAKYUSHU Project Gallery, Kitakyushu (2011); Constellation Congress, DIA Art Foundation, Dia:Beacon, Beacon, The Dan Flavin Art Insitute, Bridgehampton (2010); Koo Jeong A, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2008); Flash Cube at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2007).
Press release courtesy Pilar Corrias.