Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Chung Chang-Sup (Cheongju, 1927 – Seoul, 2011) at the Hong Kong location. First presented at the gallery’s Kanaal space in July last year, the travelling exhibition features works from the artist’s forty-year quest to master his technique with tak, a natural material that’s made from the inner bark of the mulberry—a native tree in Korea. Works from Chung’s three most important series, Return, Tak, and Meditation , are juxtaposed in the installation.
A significant confluence of historical events seem to contrast with Chung’s contemplative memories during the period these works were created: Korea’s turbulent history during the Japanese occupation at the time Chung was born; the grip of the antagonism caused by the Cold War afterward; until the foundation of South Korea in 1948; the subsequent Korean war; and eventually the processes associated with ‘modernisation’ and the search for a cultural identity.
The roots of this contemplation stretch to the artist’s childhood: the first thing Chung saw in the morning was the soft sunlight shining through the windows crafted with handmade tak paper, also called hanji. Hanji was used as a base for paintings and calligraphy, as well as architecture—as wallpaper and as panes for sliding doors and window. With the ability to control temperature, humidity, and light, hanji had a greater responsibility than mere protection. Rather, it’s like a membrane between the interior and the exterior of the dual world; the inner and the outer.
“Through the screen of tak paper, one can distinctively sense the wind, light and the flow of time outside his or her room, which allowed us to experience both feelings of being inside and outside. This is the realm of creation with no intention of creating,” Chung said. It was this form of creation Chung sought in his practice, trying to process the tak in such a way that he put his breath, odour, and soul into the process, “thus becoming a part of the process itself, becoming one entity with the paper”. Chung talked about a conversation with the mulberry fibre, searching for the balance between the composition he had in mind and the spontaneous response of the material.