Brilliant Ideas Episode #25: Ahn Kyuchul
Fabricator who calls and rouses memories
Addressing the essence in indirect discourse
Ahn Kyuchul calls himself an “uncompleted artist.” To the artist, who constantly pursues changes, produces concepts, and raises unexpected issues; artworks are like an endless story. Ahn brings up serious topics by making a large maze fish tank at the museum floor to release goldfishes in the tank, or removing piano keys one by one after music is played by the piano at a certain time everyday.
Brilliant Ideas Episode #25 features Ahn Kyuchul, who brings out events from mundane life with his capability of rousing concepts as an image, provided by Bloomberg and Hyundai Motor.
1,000 Scribes and Wall of Memories
Applying criticism of the reality on the formal structure of artworks in the 1980s, Ahn Kyuchul received a spotlight early on; not only the degree of completion of the works was high, but also the concepts he established gained sympathy of people who admire art. His constant and diligent way of creating has always drawn attention. While his early works were descriptively represented as in a satire of political events, his recent works treat same subjects in a different manner. The works presented in his solo exhibition in MMCA reveal the changed manner of the artist, which are quite different from his past works in a way of not representing anything but inducing the viewers to make something happen. The interest of the artist is focused not on performing representation, but making representation become an event.
One of the works that attracted most attention in the exhibition was <1,000 Scribes>(2015), a project of 1,000 people transcribing at a fixed time and a place, as the title indicates. In the process of transcribing a certain part of a book, all the participants became writers, the texts became images, and the view and sound of people writing became an artwork. This piece was created based on the artist’s thought that the symbolic act of writing could remind the value of humanistic thinking and invisible bonds existing between fragmented individuals.
Another artwork in the exhibition, <Wall of Memories>(2015), was a wall full of blank notes, which were filled with writings of the audience. The wall of the exhibition place was lined with 8,600 notes, on which people wrote “what was lost,” “what is missed,” and “what is absent.” The notes were covered with other notes, changing the view of the wall during the exhibition like a card section performance.
Ahn Kyuchul creates hybrid artworks that embrace art, literature, architecture, music, video, performance, and publication. Asked why he uses such various genres in a complex way, the artist answered, “Contemporary art is not developed by exclusive and inherent logics anymore, but is opened to other things and changes constantly by stimulation and influence from the outside. So, art meeting other things is not special but natural. The important thing is to not only draw other genres and media and deconstruct the existing forms, but also to create a new formal order by arranging such diversity.”
Invisible Land of Love
Aiming to more actively speak to the society through the exhibition, the artist titled his exhibition <Invisible Land of Love>. Considering a universal subject for the large-scaled exhibition, he chose “love” as the keyword. In the world where people say what they do is for love, where love is the only reason of life, and where there is deception and violence at the same time, the artist wanted to ask if there is a possibility of love left to us to miss someone, or if there is “an invisible land of love”. “Love is cliché like lyrics of a pop song, but it is also a very lonely word. Revealing the outline of the value we call love in a universal sense, and rethinking the ultimate meaning of love was my interests.” Attempting to communicate in a different manner through everyday objects, the artist completed various artworks.
Compared to art specialists who are obsessed with philosophies and contemplation, the public seem to actively understand and participate in the exhibition. Regarding this, he says “The viewers who come to the museum are not just passive bystanders as people say. They want to participate in the process, and to be part of the value being created there.” Ahn is an artist who is interested in lightening heavy things and emptying filled things. He insists also “An artist is who says the same story differently”, and now, the world's contemporary art scene is focusing on his future. ■ with ARTINPOST
<Twisted Fate of the Two> 2013
Acrylic on bronze casting, cactus vase Dimensions variable
<Writing on Sand>(detail view) 2013
Sand, stainless steel 30×300cm
<In Love> 2012
LED, timer, tripod Dimensions variable
<Seven Horizons> 2013
Glass, water, wood 15×60×5cm
<Drawn to the Rainbow> 2013
Installation view at gallery skape
<Drawn to the Rainbow> 2013
Installation view at gallery skape
Ahn Kyuchul drew a bar of chocolate from which someone took a bite, and wrote letters on each piece: M, O, R, G, E, N. The word, Morgen, which means tomorrow in German, was chosen by the artist, due to an apparent reason: tomorrow seems always sweet like chocolate. The drawing, which shows how the leading conceptual artist was 20 years ago, represents his theory and existence. Ahn Kyuchul is a magician who enriches feelings with solid experiences and firm philosophy.
The artist majored sculpture at the College of Fine Arts of Seoul National University, and worked as an art journalist in major media agencies in Korea for seven years after graduating college. He studied at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design in Germany from 1988 to 1995. In 1992, while studying in Germany, Ahn held his first solo exhibition, Ahn Kyuchul 1990-1992, at Space Saemteo Gallery, debuting as an artist. He has had 10 private exhibitions including Forty-nine Rooms (2004) at the Rodin Gallery, A House of 2.6 Square Meters (2009) at Gallery Space. Having presented artworks that reveal other sides of life inherent in everyday objects and spaces through various exhibitions, the artist wrote <The Man’s Suitcase>, in which he recorded his experiences of Western modern art, and <43 Tables>, a compilation of his thoughts about tables and drawings, along with <Nine Goldfish and Water In the Distance> published by Contemporary Literature. He has been a professor at the School of Visual Arts of the Korea National University of Arts since 1997.