JE BAAK | Ritual-Media-Karma14. Aug - 23. Sep 14 / ends in 3 days HADA Contemporary
Exhibition Opening night 14 August 2014, 6-9pm
HADA Contemporary is delighted to present the second solo exhibition with the gallery by critically emerging artist, Je Baak (b. 1978). This exhibition will showcase his new works that leap beyond his previous methodological investigation of deconstruction through manipulation of ready-made objects and values towards the ritualistic process of creation.
The act of creating a line and a dot is the foundational moment of creativity in the process of painting. For the first time in Baak’s artistic oeuvre, he creates a calligraphic line on a paper and repeatedly photographs the identical process on the same sheet in Karmic Diary (2014). As the title suggest, the work is a karmic record of the artist that he will continue periodically for life, the process that vaguely recalls the Today series by On Kawara (1933 – 2014). Withstanding the weightiness or the burden of the karmic process of creation embedded in the act of creating ironically a simple line, the repetition of his photographed brushstrokes are sedimentation of multitude of time and spaces reflecting the ever-changing perspective of the artist, at the same time his karma. Each works consists of a brushstroke yet accumulation of many disparate others simultaneously conjoined together by the photographic medium, which was previously explored methodologically in his work, Stupa (2013) by creating two dimensional stupa from photographic images.
In Eastern philosophies, the process of repetition is vitally significant as the consciousness and awareness is achieved through the repetitive routine of all practices that can ultimately lead to the enlightenment. Thus the repetition of the lines and its transformation into images and objects through the photography is the artist’s endeavour to realise the awareness analogous to the meditative 108 bows to become aware of your body and self. Similarly, in Karmic Play (2014), he photographs a coloured paper that he often played with as a child and re-photographs the image continuously. The innocence, purity and perfection symbolised by the primary colours and squares - referencing the values sought by Mondrian and Malevich that were also dealt with in the Petito Principii series - are blurred through out-focusing and transformed into vague imageries that are liberated from the discrepancy between the seen and the perceived. In connection with but significantly different with his previous series, rather than questioning through the manipulation of the values of the others, he decisively creates his own colours, lines and shapes. If Petito Principii series focused on the patternisation of images to act as the metaphor of the multiplication and segmentation of oneself, Karmic Play further adds the accumulation and documentation of his karma. Through these attempts, he aims to experiment how behaviour structures formed by critical logic becomes conscious through the repetition creating contradictory process of constructing meanings and meaninglessness.
In Prayer (2014), the artist imprinted wide black surfaces on the gallery wall using woodblocks which are materialisation of a part of The Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika , 금강경, 金剛經). As a child, Baak suffered a rare malignant tumour that resulted in series of heavy surgeries over the course of two years. The bizarre absence of the memories of these years in contrast to the vividness of his mother seated calmly and practicing copying The Diamond Sutra (사경, 寫經) buoyed the realisation of the prayer and yearning into black surfaces. As the most universal form of ritualistic practice, the ironic transformative process of the intangible and abstract prayer into the physicality fundamentally modifies the core essence creating disparate meanings questioning the integral means of communication - the media. Baak’s artistic practice has long been ritualistic in many ways taking the form of questions and comments rather than answers and conclusions examining the significance of the mediafication and the restoration of the subjectivity. As the title of the exhibition suggest, it marks the turning point in his life in which his artistic journey as a karmic ritual investigates its relationship to the media and the media governed societies and values.
Je Baak (b.1978) received MA in Communication Art & Design at Royal College of Art London and BFA in Visual Communication from Seoul National University. He exhibited internationally such as National Museum of Contemporary Art Seoul, Saatchi Gallery London, Busan Museum of Art, British Film Institute London, Asia House London, Arti et Amicitae Amsterdam, Gallery Hyundai Seoul, Gallery Jungmiso Seoul among others. He was awarded with The Grand Prize by Joongang Fine Arts Prize 2010, Chris Ganrham Memorial Award by Royal College of Art 2010 and shortlisted for Mangroup Photography Awards and selected as Young Korean Artist 2013 by National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea.
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