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Curatorial Statement " Hanguel, about its Beauty"


Hanguel was created by King Sejong and introduced as 'Hunminjeongeum(訓 民 正音) 'in 1446. Hunminjeongeum translates to “right sounds to teach the people” – as a result, its creation with a sincere care for the people becomes apparent. Hanguel was founded with this beautiful intention and an exact understanding of vocalization. It is also the only language whose inventor, principle, and year of creation are known. In 1997, UNESCO designated Hunminjeongeum as a World Record Heritage and is recognized annually on September 8, ‘International Literacy Day’. Further, the ‘UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize’ is awarded every year in recognition of excellence and innovation in literacy throughout the world.  The Korean language, Hanguel, embraces beauty and excellence in its use. This exhibition consists of various works which seek to creatively express the internal and external beauty of Hanguel.

Jung Taek Kim works with the shape of sound producing organs and basic elements: heaven, earth, and man. These are the principle components of Hangeul’s consonants and vowels. Kim recombines the triangle, square, and circle, as well as heaven, earth and man, in his works. When viewed in aggregate, the symbols appear human. Jung Taek Kim captures the essence of humanity as going beyond oneself to communicate with others in the world. Il Su Kim’s works also fit into this context of humanity. Il Su Kim has an interest in King Sejong’s motivation to create Hanguel.

King Sejong created Hanguel for the lowly. Difficulties, suffering, and scars endured by lower class Koreans are represented in Hanguel as sharp pins. More than 20,000 pins are used by Il Su Kim to create letters such as “” and “”. This representation of humanity extends to the work of Seok Yong (Joo Hwan Lee). Guelder rose (佛 頭 花) demonstrates devotion towards Buddha’s teachings, with a flower resembling Buddha’s head.  As with the pins in Kim’s work representing the suffering of individuals and Seok Yong’s little petals of the flowers are in the same context. The teaching of compassion toward people became formative by Seok Yong’s repetitive and meditative act of patience to create one small petal at a time, eventually being revealed in the form of beautiful flowers.

Kyuong Su Yu is interested in the pure formative beauty of Hanguel. His work excludes all factors that may interfere with the pure formative elements of written Hanguel. The implicit form and shape of consonants and vowels which look like reflected on the mirror make us experience the pure figurative beauty of Hanguel which departed from a language. Hyun Jung Kim is also interested in pure formative elements of written language.  She works with the combination of dots that comprise the Braille alphabet code. By superimposing the word for love in Korean, English, and Braille, she sought to create a new visual language form with gold and pearls. This form of overlaid languages represents her life, having been born in Korea living in the United States; as a consequence, her personal experience of love became physical properties through materials.

Language has a close relationship with life.  We can express our ideas, communicate with each other, live, and acquire knowledge. Language in the form of literature makes us imagine; this moves our heart like a spread picture in our heart. Hyo Bin Kwon’s work shows the picture with the essays of Min Ja Choi and Shijo of Song Sun, the Joseon Dynasty scholar.  Kwon’s combination of words and pictures takes the form of Shijohwa, containing charms of both the Korea's Literary Artists' Paintings and Hangul calligraphy. This combination will make us read her thoughts through literature projected her life in this generation. This literary approach can be found in Young Lan Yook’s work which provides commentary on our lives. Young Lan Yook compares the warm memories of the patchwork (Jo Gack Bo) on her mom’s old dining table to Sejong’s love to the people, weaving them together. Keun Lim Lee also visualizes the process of Sejong’s Hanguel like a storybook with descriptive representations.  Just as a scene of life spreads on the open page, the information related to Hanguel is drawn on the open page. This story can have wings of imagination as in the work of Young Sun Jeong. An anthropomorphic whale shows Hanguel’s footsteps on this generation with the memories of Sea and the Song of the Whale, representing the Hanguel’s history of evolutionary improvement.


Hanguel as the story of our lives is also seen as a dynamic figure in the work of Pan Gi Yoon. Yoon expresses the moment of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics where South Korea swept the whole archery event after 28 years with “high calligraphy”. Yoon developed this form, which consists of fused classical calligraphy, modern calligraphy, and Calligraphy. Experience and emotion of the moment has appeared vigorously through his unique high calligraphy. Crafter Seog Soon Jang, made lamp shades that include contents of the Hunminjeongeum through which light could softly transmit. This explains the role of Hanguel illuminating the dark realities of illiteracy, and also expressing the hope of the artist: the development of Hanguel to the future as a light that shines indefinitely.


Thus, this exhibition is composed of works interpreting the inner and outward beauty of Hanguel in a variety of ways to creatively approach the intersection of art and language. Through this exhibition we would like to provide an opportunity to consider again the beauty of Hanguel, which has been overlooked in our lives, and we wish to use this exhibition as an opportunity to share our proud culture to all over the world. *

                                                          - Hyun Jung Kim

                                                                   2016, Fall



Curatorial Statement "Metal as a Medium"

What is added value? Starting with giving availability by polishing basic materials to make tools, ​​we are constantly creating added value in our lives. Alchemy is the dream to maximize these added values.  These are endless efforts and dreams of human beings to use humble materials to create highly valued products such as gold or “fountain of youth” drugs. While alchemists’ efforts may be considered as useless, I believe that all art forms can be viewed in the same context.

Art, which produces the maximum added value of beauty and meaningful communication from basic materials, is alchemy. The extreme example of this attempt in art history can be found in Arte Povera. Piero Manzoni produced canned art of the human excrement in order to make authentic and universal value as an example < Artist’s shit -“Merda d’artista”(1961)> . The attempt to convert an overlooked everyday object to high art stimulated us. This alchemic action, which is the promotion of the objects, materials, processes, actions and concepts were not only materials themselves but also art itself, decorated art history for a while.

Now, we obtain the freedom of material as our methods from history and can freely choose and “cook” the methods which are released to express individual needs in art history. In this exhibition, I brought together artists who use metal as alchemy. In the form of their work, metal can be the process or result of them. Printers Catherine Bebout and Eileen Foti use copper and aluminum sheets in the process. Sculptors Walter Swales and Lynne Buschmann cast metals for their works. Innovative contemporary jewelers Robert Browning and Frederick Marshall use traditional methods and materials of jewelry, but transform them as the modern concept of beauty. Next-generation artists Hyun Jung Kim and Kristal Romano take methods from sculpture and jewelry to express their concepts.

Their works take different forms of stories, but they have a common effort to choose metal as a medium to create a better value.  The questions and the beauty of work in this exhibition are designed to provide an opportunity to viewers to add more value to their lives – Alchemy.

-   Hyun Jung Kim

2012, Spring



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