For Chun Kwang Young, Abstract Expressionism worked best to express the chaos and struggles of the world he lives in as well as the ones in his past.
Abstract Expressionism is a movement in American painting that originated in New York City after World War 2. Birthed in an era of Cold War Politics, which played a pivotal role in the United State’s growth as a global power, it was also an era where fear of communism fueled both paranoia and political repression. During this time for many, it was also a chance for freedom of expression through art. With Abstract Expressionism, artists could break away from traditional techniques and create controversal pieces of work. With the use of unconventional materials, the style took an artist’s canvas off the easel to create art that reached out to the viewer with deeper meaning. These meanings were often strong emotional or expressive content. For Chun Kwang Young, Abstract Expressionism worked best to express the chaos and struggles of the world he lives in as well as the ones in his past.
Devoting much of his life to his artistic journey, he received his BFA from Hong-lk University, Seoul in 68 and his MFA from Philadelphia College of Art in 71 before shifting from painting to the more familiar Abstract work he does today. Chun says, “I had been used to traditional art classes that forced one to have one’s artistic imagination censored by one’s teacher, but I soon accepted the freedom of Abstract Expressionism. I wanted to express the conflicts that were happening between people and between the past, present, and future, though subtly hidden behind a dangerous harmony. Abstract Expressionism was the answer to my problem.“
The textured surfaces are built of hand made styrofoam triangles wrapped with Korean mulberry paper printed with Korean & Chinese characters. The paper is recycled from documents of different ages, ideas, and philosophies. Individually they are unique but together they are transformed into two dimensional works that assume new meaning from the original documents they were repurposed from. The idea of re-using these papers originates from childhood visits to a local doctor who practiced traditional Chinese medicine. He recalls, “I remember that numerous packages of mulberry paper were hanging from the ceiling, each with a name card of the medicine that was wrapped inside. The image of my old memories of the drugstore lasted in my head for a while. I always had a desire to communicate my art through a Korean sentiment, and the image of the medicine packages hanging from the ceiling became a new theme in my art.”
The colors in his work are applied individually and are collected from natural sources such as fruit, flowers, earth, or tea. Much of the beauty in Chun’s art is due to his precise attention to detail, personal touch, and self-reflection throughout every aspect of the creation process in his pieces. When looking at his art you can’t help but to notice the delicate nature of each hand crafted piece that are put together much like a puzzle in a sort of organized chaos kind of way. His works hold history, meaning, and emotion to anyone who chooses to explore his art in it’s complexity. We all have scars that we’ve gained throughout our lives. Our own history has molded us into the person we are today; just as much as the countries we reside in, the governments that rule us, and the over all health of the surrounding world we live in. These many “things” are the parts that define us, much like the many triangular pieces that are combined together and sculpted to form Chun’s imaginative works.
You can catch one of Chun Kwang Young’s pieces at the Kim Foster Gallery on June 2nd from 6pm to 8pm. The group show will be running until July 30th.