Park Cheon-wook

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Artist: Park Cheon-wook

Works at: Seoul Art Space_GeumCheon
Stays in: 2012
Genre: Visual Arts
2009 M.F.A, major in Sculpture, Hong-Ik University, Seoul, Korea
2007 B.F.A. major in Sculpture, Hong-Ik University, Seoul, Korea

Solo Exhibition
2009 ‘ALASKA ZEBRA' _ Gallery Kunst Doc, Seoul, Korea
2009 'The moment of reconciliation' _ Gallery Boda, Seoul, Korea

Selected Group Exhibition
2012 ‘Rainbow Direction’ _ Gallery Space Can, Seoul, Korea
2011 ‘Emergency Landing, Unfamiliar Scenes’ _ Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
2010 ‘Frame, Frame' _ Dongduk Art Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2010 'STAGE REALITY' _ Gallery Salon de H, Seoul, Korea
2009 ‘Seogyo Nanjang 2009’ _ Gallery Sangsangmadang, Auction Show, Seoul, Korea
2009 ‘Chelsea Hotel No Longer Empty’ _ Hotel Chelsea, New York, USA
2009 ‘Seogyo Sixty 2009: The Game for Respect' _ Gallery Sangsangmadang, Seoul, Korea

<Alaska Zebra>_pigment print_150x120cm_2009

 Alaska Zebra_pigment print_120x140cm_2009

Mom, I am studying hard_pigment print_60x90cm_2008

Sahara Goldfish_pigment print_84x60cm_2008

Untitled_pigment print_100x65cm_2011

A hand hold out between vanilla flavoured trancparent papers_pigment print_84x60cm_2008


Untitled_watering can_60x70x40cm_2011

<Grow in the middle>_plastic,aluminum,steel_200x200x140cm_2012

<Equilibrium conflict>_flowerpot,soil,plants_100x100x80cm_2012

Park Cheonwook

The world viewed through one’s eyes is a continuum of uncertainties and segments, and the fear of uncertainties and ignorance positions itself in the real through imagination. Imagination is a religion of ignorance and a product of anxiety. Although we cannot even view our own, true appearances without a mirror, we construct a cowardly world using the adhesive of imagination. My work begins as I eliminate the cowardly world.

The Conformation of Spontaneity
Jo Joonggeol (Professor, Art History)
From my position as an art historian, I am as or more interested in the possible presence of any extraneous element as I am in finding an element of value in an artist’s body of works. Such attention is of course accompanied by anxiety. It is because I would occasionally discover an anachronistic, kitsch or disingenuous aspect to an artist and such instances are largely disappointing.
The artist Park Cheonwook inspires much hope in that he is free from such perils. First, by eliminating ascribed significances, fixed patterns and triteness from his works, Park effectively avoids many pitfalls which artists are often beset by. Attempts by artists to present their works as objects which accompany internal significance often ruin those pieces and even draw shadows over the artists’ futures. The modern era is sensitive to the fact that the pre-modern one invited Fascism by viewing significance as the foundation of deductive reasoning. This is what had induced Tristan Tzara’s proclamation of the Dada Manifesto.
What the artist focuses on most is the spontaneity of an artwork itself. He allows his works to begin from single dots to autonomously grow into gradually more complex organisms. This is the first attemptwhich the author is aware of- to introduce minimalism, arguably the most important aesthetic of the modern era, and “the death of the author” to the sculptural arts. It is highly original.
The artist must disappear from their work. It is because the existence of an artist will at any point signify the recovery of intelligence and is an act of reviving an already failed intelligence. The artist Park, for instance, has thrown a single piece of wood into the ocean. With that the artist’s role had ended. Now all manner of matter will be attached to the piece of wood and will live its own fate. Park's body of works is very contemporary in that they reveal an attempt to assign everything to the spontaneity of the artwork itself, which creates itself.

One area of possible improvement: The arts must be aesthetic expressions of the truth. Park is certainly truthful. Only, it is the private hopes of the author, who has been designated a mentor, that the artist's works acquire a somewhat more refined aesthetic element.

Making Strange: The Parallel Lives of Park Cheonwook’s Objects and Images
Rachel Gugelberger (Curator)
An inventory of Park Cheonwook’s artistic cathexis reveals an emphasis on mass-produced objectssculpture, photography and installations that combine fabricated objects with altered ready-mades to explore visual perspective and dimensionality. “The objects say nothing by themselves,” states the artist, who creates a parallel universe for his objects through strategies of displacement. The roles these objects play are articulated in three series, each building upon divergent conceptual parameters that contemplate the reconciliation of object and space.
In the series <Wrapping>, everyday objects are arranged and wrapped in continuous layers of plastic wrap until their physical characteristics are obfuscated and their functionality rendered inoperative, resulting in cocoon-like forms. In <The Sunkist Cannot Stand Alone> (2006), for example, a chair is wrapped until it can no longer stand, invalidating its raison d'être. (The title refers to a brand of drink.) <I will go home early> (2006) evokes both great civilizations and pre-civilization in one: A bicycle is transformed into a headless, limbless combination of human and animal. Painted to resemble bronze, animal has transitioned into industrial technology without learning how to walk first. In <Tapench> (2006), Park wraps together a pagoda monument and bench. (The title is a portmanteau of the Korean word for pagoda, “tap,” and “bench.”) And in <House Cleaning> (2006), Park depicts a life-size, cartoon-like robotic figure standing atop a pedestal. Evoking modernist sculpture in its presentation, it is accompanied by x-rays that reveal the mass-produced stuff that give the figure form, such as a dust broom and rake. Exploring the central idea of perspective (derived from the Latin perspicere, meaning “to see through”), these metamorphoses ultimately subvert the distinction between object and meaning.
Park’s practice is related to the techniques of defamiliarization or ostranenie (making strange). Coined by critic Viktor Shklovsky in his 1917 essay “Art as Device,” defamiliarization refers to the practice of presenting the familiar in strange ways. By extension, Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance plays on the double meaning of the French word différer, “to defer” and “to differ.” While Park indeed makes strange and defers meaning, the work in the series <Silent Smile> recalls early Renaissance anamorphic perspective, in which a distorted image becomes recognizable when viewed from a unique vantage point, typically by way of its reflection, a cylindrical mirror or a particular viewing angle.
In <Silent Smile>, Park photographs sculptural tableaux placed in various sites from different vantage points. <Thinking about Village> (2007) is the most succinct example, and also the most deceiving upon first glance. The image consists of a street scene in single-point perspective. At the center of the composition is what appears to be a photograph on a tripod stand, depicting an aerial view of a model of the solar system above a table that stands on a floor map of the world. In fact, the seeming photograph on the stand is not a photograph at all, but a threedimensional sculptural tableau. The rectangular photographic frame provides the conceptual parameters that limit what is made visible in the final object. That which literally “fits” into the pre-determined borders of the frame determines what is cut from the sculpture (i.e., “cropped” from view) using dimensions reduction. He then creates a stand for the object and positions it into various situations, documenting it from various vantage points. The object now exists as a 3D substitute for flatness.
The source object of <Sahara Goldfish> (2008) is a replica of a person in a hooded-sweatshirt; face down and asleep at a desk. The object is photographed on steps, in a sidewalk planter and on the street atop a barrel. In the street scene, a circular street mirror to the right of the barrel captures the sculpture’s backside, exposing the sharp cut edges of the desk as well as the white plaster the figure is made from. In the final presentation, all three photographs are exhibited, as well as the source object. The inclusion of streaming video of the object implicates the passage of time as an active component of an object’s life.
Later works in <Secret Smile> return again to the ready-made. In <Untitled> (2011), a rectangular sheet of metal is cut out of a large metal bowl, and in another <Untitled> (2011), a rectangular sheet of plastic is cut out of a red colander, both formally premised on the rectangular photographic frame. Situated in outdoor spaces and photographed in situ; the objects spark associations of the lowest common denominator with the environment that surrounds them and belie a fundamental disconnect with nature and function. Incorporating both reflective and porous forms that further complicate Park’s modified ready-mades, their surfaces transform each image into a visual essay on the act of looking.
Invoking painterly compositions within their rectilinear window frameworks, the perspectival illusionism of <Secret Smile> suggests the techniques of trompe l’oeil painting, as well as set design, in which objects become props. Whereas trompe l’oeil involves realistic imagery to create optical illusions that the objects depicted exist in 3D, Park employs 3D objectsaltered, fabricated or arrangedto depict the optical illusion that the objects exist in 2D. Park’s process of anamorphosis is shared by way of a trick concealed “inside” the image or via documentation that reveal how this flatness is achieved.
In his most recent body of work <Grow in the Middle>, Park’s interest in geometry is apparent. Here he builds out from the center of a picture plane, altering mass-produced objects to express the notion of reflective symmetry. <What up Somehow> (2012) combines predominantly plastic objectsjerry can, watering can, and hoses, connected with industrial handles. <Grow in the Middle> (2012) is composed of hula-hoops, coatracks, traffic barriers, and more. Evoking the complex system of arteries or DNA molecules, the reference to the body is inescapable.
Vacillating between transmogrification, anamorphosis and assemblage, Park never leaves the object alone, hence denying the possibility of an essence. Distinguishing one thing from another based on the level of distortion achieved, he underscores the extent to which imaging informs dimensionality and perspective, as well as figurative and literal ways of seeing. Rife on visual puns, light on irony and socio-economic associations, the meaning of Park’s objects plays second fiddle to his process. Yet, no matter how strange, the deliberate confusion of his objects cannot completely deny the disharmony between object and use-value. His objects may have been endowed with parallel lives; however, in pointing to both their creation and destruction, Park cannot help but draw attention back to the very world from whence they came.
- This article is commissioned by the Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon as part of International Critique Program 2012.