22 Oct 2015 — 28 Nov 2015
Choi Ki
Seog

Iron is strong. Even with a fingernail size piece, it does not lose its majesty. Iron melts at above 1500℃. Then, it hardens again. Manpower originated from iron. It was a weapon when fighting an enemy and a spoon when eating a meal. The strength, firmness, and sharpness of iron was pleasure for the conqueror and a fear for the enemy.
A sculpture has a special power. The human body, weak and ephemeral, was granted with perpetuity through materials, such as stone, bronze, and iron, or it wished to be like that. The privilege of sculpture was acquired through the quality of the material, size, and structure of the pedestal which makes us to look up to it. However, sculptures that do not have a pedestal draw the viewer into it, aligning itself with the viewer’s body. What determines a form of work and perspective is not the sanctified privilege but the viewer’s body. The act of walking around a work and experiencing bodily contact can only prove the presence of sculpture. In addition, a sculpture that no longer takes a human form has turned its attention into a fundamental study on the materials of which the form was made of.
Chol Ki-seog, who indifferently places a piece of iron in a plane shape, presents the very textures and materiality of iron. His work, that put pieces of iron end to end by welding, thoroughly reveals the qualities of the material that melts and hardens in heat. The solid surface and empty interior organically interact through the gap, occupying the space. Its form always looks determined.
In this solo exhibition, the strictness of a form is excluded. The work is created based on the material’s reaction, rather than the artist’s design. By combining oxygen and LPG, the artist made holes on the iron plate or scraped it. The plate’s uneven surface and bent and rolled up shape allow a viewer to imagine the scale of the impact it must have endured. The artist said he wanted to show a soft, elastic, and delicate side of iron, discarding its hard nature. He said it is “making without making.” Rather than making a form by force, he let the material take a shape on its own by permitting only minimal interference. The presence of the artist is distant, and the vitality of the material is clear.
The work is completed through the artist’s repetitive actions. Without an aid from others, he created it solely with his body. Therefore, the form of the work equals the artist’s time and body. It is a mutual interaction created by iron and his body. The aspects of naturalism, arbitrariness, intentionlessness, temporality, bodiliness reflected in the work make a connection with Korean monochrome painting (dansaekhwa). Monochrome painting illuminates a contemplation on “me and others”, artificiality and naturalness, materiality and non-materiality. Some say it is Korean modernism, others that it is a Buddhistic world view and some that it is a beauty of moderation. Everyone agrees that it is an Eastern way of thinking.
Choi Ki-seog’s new work is an answer to the massage of dansaekhwa. Arbitrary transformation of a flat surface, qualities of which dansakehwa cannot express, is represented through the materiality of iron. Hence, his work exists on the borderline of painting and sculpture. The artist says this is neither a two dimensional nor three dimensional work but just a study of material. The outcome of this study will be displayed on the wall or on the floor. Choi Ki-seog’s solo exhibition is a very self-contained exhibition without a pathetic excuse or long-winded explanation. Rather the message is through asymmetrical form and transfiguration, the surface of the damaged material, the solid materiality of iron, and the seemingly indifferent placement of the work.
           
Installation view