12 Jan 2023 — 11 Feb 2023
Choulgue Jung
Later, later, later,

Later, Later, Later is a solo exhibition by Jung Choulgue, a metaphor on the emotional and situational encounters that come with the human experience of loving the other. Set in northern Italy in 1983, film Call Me by Your Name (2017) follows the romantic relationship between Elio and Oliver. Oliver is a graduate-student assistant to Elio's father who is a professor, who spends the summer vacation with professor’s family (and Elio) before returning to the United States at the end of summer. Young Elio is smitten by Oliver, but at the end of summer, Oliver departs without his usual “later”, reserving themselves of vain promises. The graduate student understood the reality of love that would not be fulfilled. In that silence, Elio grasps that whatever was, would no longer be. Even if Oliver departed with a vague customary “later”, Elio would have accepted it as a token of faith, of a possible future encountered together, and Oliver would have propositioned it as a deferred future together?ultimately a parting salutation. There is nothing more romantic and painfully cruel than love, later.

Jung’s solo exhibition is on the theme of love, not of philanthropy, altruism, or familial fashion, but a kind of love that is in search of, and empty in the shape of, a specific other. No person can be completely free from it. Every person encounters it in their own way. To some, love may come easy, or laden-free of burden. To some, it may seem entirely elusive while even others may have seen it come and gone. Jung Choulgue believes that ‘impossibility and imperfection are part and parcel to love’. As lovers, we simply meet, bid farewell, long for more, then reject love. And that trajectory seems to repeat and extend forever in some iterative, circular fashion, as an integral part of the human experience. That is, an experience that Jung believes can be translated visually in an exhibition.

Love was there in 2010, as the theme to the artist’s first solo exhibition. There, Jung addressed the lingering moments that follow puppy-love, and the disappointment of becoming unfamiliar with a person. His first offering was in painting only, but he soon expanded his practice to needle-and-thread, as well as sculptures and installations. His presentations forego the abstraction-via-singular-screen. Instead, he adds finer detail to a singular theme by approaching it from multiple media. As such, his exhibitions are often composed of fragmented ideas structured and ordered under an overarching theme. Those ideas may take form as rocks, potted plants, and fabrics, or be less tangible as text from prose or poetry. Soft-spoken over many occasions is more effective than a singular resonating voice that booms only once, according to Jung. This threading of voices resembling a harmonious melody that spreads across a musical score, bound together by some unseen rule.

This latest exhibition consists of four works. When we love someone, our attention becomes focused on them, and we become more observant of their words and actions. We learn more about them that way, and for the theatrically gifted, this learning can include mimicry of those very words and actions. is a painted work that grows resemblance to the exhibition hall windows and the scenery outside. Almost like a reflection of the other, but unable to completely collapse into one, forcing mimicry into the next best bet. Between the canvas and the window are different seasons, the canvas being the obvious mimic. And yes, we stumble after the one we wish to know better and resemble, but they are always out of reach, having fluidly moved positions. is a work which includes two stick (or rod) pieces, one horizontal and the other vertical, holding a ball in-between. There is tense balance between the two stick-pieces chopstick-holding the ball and the viscerally tangible sense of slipping its grip and dropping it through. On the floor, is a different situation, where the stick is supported by two balls. Jung has set the table for how viewers might choose to experience the painting. Whether that experience leads to a happy ending with love, is entirely the choice of the viewers. is a work of differently-patterned fabrics connected by thin threading. Each fabric looks uniquely different to others, but they scratch each other’s backs and seek unity among the different. is a work where the cutting-mat is a talking-person and the frame is an unlistening-person. The cutting-mat requires a sturdy frame capable of supporting the mat’s lack of structural integrity, but the frame seems reticent and unwilling. In truth, for the frame, anything would do. And for the cutting-mat, an added frame does not mean improved function of its original purpose. However, he seems not to have come to terms with this rigid and unforgiving reality.
The artist’s presented works iterate on the idea of two separate things that are paired but cannot become both one and whole. Jung’s work casting the question of true love also did not define love in a singular form. The four presented works merely exist separately, each with its own situation. Although they are parts that seek to be whole, the artist hopes for each to be beautiful and come as they are. Faith in an existence of perfect love, seeking it to the repeated disappointment and detriment of imperfect love, is perhaps what causes love to fail. This situation urgent yet tender situation where two face an unbridgeable gap is an apt representation of love.
Perfect love, like anything which claims to be perfect, leads to the question of its definition. And traditionally, this perfectly formed love story (whether by waking will or the subconscious) has featured a man and a woman who meet, fall in love and marry, have children and live as a family. Jung Choulgue’s works reflect his identity which has disallowed him of such perfect and wholesome love that the broader society has come to expect. His thematic lingering on love for such an extended period of time, and his great attention for the life of the other, has both been to ask: ‘who are you/they to look at us in that way?’ “Who can claim oneself better than love, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, and identity? None.” Says Jung. We all try our best to strike out with our best foot forward, but all that is just mediocrity in the practice of love. Jung wants his works to reflect something back to the gaze beholding it. Much like a mirror?the looking glass?where people experience their own reflection, and not the panel-shaped furniture itself. He has strong belief that allowing the viewing gaze to identify their own stories reflecting back at them would be a way of finding acceptance as part of us. And he is a present believer, not later.
Installation view