Woo Suk Jang’s (Finished Story) was the title of his own publishing event and private exhibition, 5 years after his 2nd exhibition which was held back in 2003. The artist worked with projects related to love, titling his them or . He tried various methods in these projects by collecting or recording others’ love stories, or by setting up a performance, which provided a coincidental meeting of the opposite sexes. But early this year the artist wanted to draw, and I was curious to see what kind of work he would produce. Whether he will work in continuation of his projects in the past, work with new materials that contrast from trendy high-tech mediums or will deal with the collaboration of all medias, were my questions.
But the answer to his recent project was found somewhere else. Out of the blue, he found his inspiration in ‘4 in 4 sek’ (meaning 4 people in 4 different perspectives) a skit from Gag Concert (a Korean comedy program). The skit is formed with a story-teller, sports caster, zoologist and a home shopping host-- who talk solely based on their own perspective and fail to communicate with each other. Yet, in the end the dialogues somehow twist and end up forming a coherent conversation. Using a single form of story and showing variety and diversity has been the way Jang Woo Suk’s formative projects and the way he approaches his themes.
His recent art has been not only related to love, but also his own experience and his perspective on love translated into classic stories, cartoons, then collaborated to create new picture. But the artist didn’t end there and created a story for each pieces, and added a narrative within the paintings and its stories. Like all love stories are different from each other, the love that the artist dreams of also varies. The images in his painting become as chaotic and complicated as words would do in comedy skits. There are pieces that are so full of images and relationships between them that it is difficult to figure out the dialogue in the story. But what is more important belong to the question in what the author is trying to do by assembling the images and his purpose in doing so.
Visual images are the most specific and the most fundamental element that proves our physical world’s existence. Depending on individual’s experience and thoughts, the narrative and the explanation of a visual image can be understood differently. The images the artist show are familiar in our culture, representing the knowledge of our generation, yet also the dream that connects us with the past and those from other generation. Here, in front of his works, individuals’ reasons in creating their version of the story plays an important role. One senses the world, feels and recognizes it, creating ‘an experience’; the artist is creating a different story from his own experience and is driving the others to feel something new through his creation. Furthermore, the artist reproduced the fake stories, enjoying working with his project for this exhibition. By personally installing the ice sculpture to celebrate his publishing, creating an imaginary reader K.C. to solve the mysteries in his works, and by adding the name ‘Kong-ji Yoo Jae yeon’ on the curatorial list on the back of the book, he mixed in his humorous touches through out the exhibition. These attempts to show the inner sides of the artist hopefully will continue as an on going attempt, not finished, like what the title of this book says. Everending story.
By Ryu Ji Yeon / National Modern Art Museum Scholar