Opening / Event Date: 17 May, 2021
Closing / End Date: 24 Oct, 2021
Tang Contemporary Art is proud to present Korean artist Park Seungmo’s solo exhibition at Hong Kong Space. The exhibition features Park’s representative wire figurative sculptures from his famous Maya (Illusion) series, collected from New York, Berlin, and Seoul. His picturesque sculptures lead the audience to the momentary experience of the boundaries between reality and memory, truth and perception, and consciousness and longing.
Park Seungmo is an artist who throws questions without a cease. His fundamental question begins with “Who am I?”. He spent the early years of his life in a rural area, which compelled him to make sense of his surrounding environments. He thought, “If surrounding environments shape a person, perhaps I am also made of a collection of happenstance events or some grains of dirt.” Park then began to search for an answer through studying Sanskrit and Oriental philosophies where similar ideologies originate from.
There is a Sanskrit word for illusion, maya, which literally means “Indeed, there is nothing.” Keeping some distance is needed in order to understand one of Park’s artworks, for which he puts together multiple layers of 0.5 mm-diameter stainless steel mesh to remind us of a drawing. When viewed from the right distance, a multi-dimensional image that is generated by the juxtaposition of silhouettes through a touch of light and darkness can be seen. On the other hand, when viewers get too close, what is seen becomes ambiguous because the elements composing the image become scattered. The viewers can only get a misleading image made by a series of irrelevant fragments. According to Park, a human, too, is a mere image created by this kind of fragment, fragments that signify environments, jobs, and personal relationships etc.
Park goes further by utilizing aluminum or stainless-steel wire when crafting his sculptures, comparing these works to shadow-plays. If we put together our hands to make a shadow image of a butterfly on a white wall, we can recognize the shadow as a butterfly only by seeing its outlines – similar to how Park replicates only the outlines of objects wrapped tightly with stainless steel wires. This approach resonates with Park’s view that people also exist as outlines without substance and leads him to another question: Can we claim outlines as the substance and proof of existence? We might say that being humans and not being humans are the same, or being things and not being things are the same. Park suggests that this sort of reasoning is an illusion as well. The reason we believe in the existence of something despite the absence of its substance is that we are unable to comprehend reality. It is like thinking that I know I exist as a person but I only see the body as a shell; I can’t know what is inside.
“In the past, I was laboring to find answers, but now I am thinking only about continuing to add questions,” said Park. Park’s artworks are his way of journeying to personal enlightenment without conveying messages. They help him ask himself to find out who he is through art as a meditative mean, exploiting both the emotive side and the rational side of the mind. Park is able to show us, ultimately, an utter awareness of impermanence and transiency in life.
“It never was, never is and never will be. We were never born. We never died and we never will.”
— Excerpt from the author’s note.