Whistle and P21 are pleased to co-host the two-person exhibition Two Tu by Sikyung Sung and Hyun Nahm. The show is completed by the two artists' long-term dialogue and occupies two exhibition spaces.
Two Tu is an exhibition on two holes. The show focuses on both artists' process of creating the 'See Through (투, 透)' in the form of void or empty space and the unique functions and effects that follow.
Sikyung Sung's painting begins without presupposing a completed image or overall composition. Much like unconscious doodling or extreme improvisation in free jazz, the work starts with an arbitrary brush stroke applied to an empty canvas. Then he connects, breaks, stacks, and erases them, creating dynamic rhythms and events on the surface.
In the drawing process, the artist refuses to recognise the framed surface as a unified chapter; shifting microscopic points of view, focusing on the individual moment the brush touches the canvas. After that, the fragmentary realms formed are placed in the constant relationship between sections, where the process of vigorously moving back and forth and attempts at coordinating them is repeated. There is always an unprocessed margin in the confluence of fragmentary organisations that lacks consistent control over the whole. However, this empty space is far from giving the quiet, peaceful, and static impression we generally think of when encountering the word.
These bare-faced holes, which create a sense of alienation from the painted surface, break the balance of the entire painting and build anticipation of something more. These elements immediately gain an escalated effect as they enter the gallery space. The empty white areas revealed on the canvas form a continuum with the white walls of the white cube, causing strange illusions, such as if the lines, touches, and colours accumulated by the artist are floating in space. As a result, Sikyung Sung's paintings carry some transparency and liltingness even when the paint is thickly stacked.
If Sung's 'Tu' is an empty lot left untouched by the artist, what is discovered in Hyun Nahm's work is a hollow cavity created through the reversal of the solid and the void. Nahm's work is based on the 'miniascape,' in which natural objects mimic the scenery surrounding them. To achieve modern miniascape construction through sculpting, the artist experiments with the physical and chemical properties of industrial materials such as epoxy, polystyrene, and cement, translating them into the sculptural language. Traditional sculpting techniques are redefined by concepts such as excess, mining, and double-sidedness.
The 'Void Extruction' series placed in the gallery undergoes the process of stacking numerous spherical or atypical lumps that are carved, then pulled out through negative casting. The epoxy used in casting flows into the gaps of structural lumps and hardens, and the chunks made of polystyrene melt and disappear due to the high heat generated in the curing step, forming empty spaces inside the piece. Afterward, the overall shape of the work is revealed by cutting and grinding the surface to excavate the cavities.
These caves are connected internally within the sculpture, and sometimes they penetrate through and illuminate the space beyond. Inside the caves, erupted chemicals flow and hang in forms like moss or stalagmites, and small-sized objects are sometimes stowed. The three pieces of Chain Link Strategy are suspended in the air by light plastic chains attached to a ring through a hole, supporting each other in a risky structure in which the whole is disturbed if one of them falls.
Two Tu asks what is seen beyond these voids, overlapping two types of 'Tu' in two spaces. They were caused by the different interests and demands of the two artists. Still, both are windows that give a glimpse of the unique fabrication process of each work, and furthermore exist as a passage through which the traditional medium of painting and sculpture extends its meaning beyond the formative dimension.
Hyun Nahm (b.1990) studied Painting at Hongik University and received his MFA in Fine Arts from Seoul National University of Science and Technology. He has held solo exhibitions B_urrowing at the Bottom of a Rainbow_, ATELIER HERMÈS, Seoul (2021); My early adulthood pilgrimage is wrong, as I expected, instant roof, Seoul (2021); Miniascape Theory, Art Space HYEONG / Shift (2020). Group exhibitions include Gallery Kiche (2021), Dorok (2020), Audio Visual Pavilion (2018), archive bomm (2017), and Space Willing N Dealing (2015) in Seoul.
Sikyung Sung (b.1991) received his BFA in Painting from Hongik University and his MFA in Fine Arts from Seoul National University of Science and Technology. In 2019 he held the solo exhibition exit exit at Art Space HYEONG / Shift, Seoul. His work has been shown in group exhibitions at ONE AND J. Gallery (2020, 2016), Art Space 3 (2019), and more.
Press release courtesy Whistle.