“Hidden Surface”: Korean installation artist Kiwon Park at Galleria Continua – interview

Kiwon Park reveals the hidden characteristics of space at Galleria Continua in Beijing.

Art Radar talks to Kiwon Park about his current exhibition and creative influences.

Kiwon Park, Installation of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

From 28 September 2016 to 5 February 2017 Korean artist Kiwon Park’s exhibition “Hidden Surface” is on at Galleria Continua in Beijing. Kiwon Park transforms the exhibition space using materials such as cardboard in order to create a distinct experience of the gallery space.

Born in 1964 in Cheongju, Korea, Kiwon Park is an installation artist who works with ordinary objects to alter environments and explore notions of materiality. He is influenced by concepts of minimalism and often explores the history of a place in order to produce his installations. He encourages active participation from visitors, so that they can feel comfortable in the space and make it their own.

Kiwon Park, Installation of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

“Hidden Surface” involves an installation throughout the gallery space, exploring concepts of “thickness” through coverings of the floors and walls. The upper floors of the gallery contain a group of paintings entitled Width, a series that Kiwon Park has been working on since 2005. As explained in the press release,

[Kiwon Park] divides the surface of traditional Korean paper to represent several specific phenomena occurring within a space. Each surface is divided and filled with innumerable monochromatic lines heading towards different directions, laid one upon another. The artist believes that the series of paintings are reciprocally perfecting each other to function as a background, composing balance among the audience and the exhibiting space.

Kiwon Park, Installation of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

In 2010 Park was awarded the Korea Artist Prize from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea for exploring new avenues in the field of installation art. He has had exhibitions at a number of world-renowned institutions such as the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Gwancheon (2010), Miki Wick Kim Contemporary Art Zurich (2009), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid (2006), Arko Art Center (2006), Museum Folkwang Essen (2006), the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), K21 Düsseldorf (2005) and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001), among many others.

Art Radar took the opportunity to have a chat with Kiwon Park about his current exhibition and the creative influences in his work.

Kiwon Park, Installation of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Could you tell us a bit about what the show “Hidden Surface” is exploring?

By revealing hidden surfaces of the space, I attempt to explore inner qualities of it. I consider the exhibiting area of Galleria Continua itself as the subject and concept of the exhibition. I covered the space with cardboard to highlight every hidden elements. I also want to convey a profound meaning of the emptiness, which refers to the fullness arising from an empty space. To compress, it can be understood as a silent communication with an empty space.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

What kind of environment or experience do you hope to create for visitors when they enter the exhibition space of “Hidden Surface”?

The environment provided to audiences is an area that can be absorbed by anyone. It is a place where everyone can take a rest by sitting in or sprawling out. In the midst of relaxation, it would be pleasing to meet or have a conversation with oneself, as if one is facing a transparent mirror. I want audiences to feel the texture of cardboard, which highlights characteristics of the space. Also, I decided to varnish cardboards with small brushes to add deepth. I suggest audiences to sense how cardboard with various hues merge into a single surface and to feel the visual experience arising from it.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

You often incorporate the history of a place into your exhibitions. How did the specific environment or context of Beijing inform this exhibition?

I believe the exhibiting space of Galleria Continua represents a part of the history of Beijing. Thus, I was concerned with media and methods that can reveal the hidden characteristics of the space. I came to the conclusion that simple and empty cardboards can turn the place into its original form, as they have quality of carrying any values. To highlight the natural status, I decided to attach cardboards only on to the refined white walls and leave the original structures as they are. After the installation, I could feel as if the space turned into the natural and original form.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Space plays an important role in your work, you could explain a bit about how you first became interested in exploring ideas of spatiality?

During the early 1990s, I focused on creating minimal objects, yet later I expanded the ideas to the space. Among the spatial elements, including ‘walls, floors, ceilings, and light’, I was first interested in expressing movements of walls. As I found new values from simple and ordinary walls, I wanted to demonstrate such atmosphere in exhibiting areas.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Could you explain how Post-Minialism has influenced your creative practice?

My working philosophy is to realise ‘one concept in a single, articulate way’. I prefer Minimalism. My personality does not match to complex, exaggerated, expository, or extreme expression. I am interested in minimal ways and they can be noted from my works. Yet, I deviate from conventional Minimalism, as I focus on presenting empty spaces. From emptiness, I want to deliver humane fullness rather than material qualities.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing, 2016. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Your work also explores the materiality of everyday things. In a world filled with stuff and objects, how do you think paying attention to the material nature of the things in the space around us can impact our lives?

Although the values we are seeking for always stay around us, we are trying to find them at wrong spots, as we cannot see or feel them. I am interested in ordinary materials around us and concerned with natural ways to reveal the original quality of media. I believe that paying attention to the material nature of things will bring composure and spiritual abundance to our life.

Kiwon Park, installation view of "Hidden Surface" at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Kiwon Park, installation view of “Hidden Surface” at Galleria Continua Beijing. Image courtesy Galleria Continua Beijing.

Are there any particular artists who have influenced you?

I like Luncheon on the Grass (Dejeuner sur I’Herbe) by Edouard Manet. Although the painting portrays a conventional scene, it represents an ideal life. A man having a rest on the grass with a lover and a friend reminds me of an exotic utopia, or Xanadu. I also admire the artistic attitude of Louise Bourgeois, as she came up with impressive works during her latter years.

Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?

I am planning to seek for invisible movements. I am always concerned with interesting and new works. It can be understood as a journey to seize an uncatchable rainbow.

Claire Wilson

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Related topics: Korean artists, gallery show, mixed media, installation, consumerism, events in Beijing

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