V&A Korean Collection: Chun Kwang Young: Aggregation10-SE032RED: 2010

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Chun Kwang Young’s work mixes the traditional, through the use of customary Korean mulberry paper known as hanji paper, with contemporary style, as the geometrical aggregation design brings to life. Hanji paper was specifically chosen by Chun due to its traditional use with Korean society to wrap household items. Chun also had a personal connection to the paper, remembering it being used in his granduncle’s herbal medicine shop to wrap herbal concoctions. The paper bared printed wishes for the patient’s good health and they were hung from the ceiling of the medicine shop. This striking image of a ceiling covered with medicine bundles, shaped Chun’s artistic ideals.

Chun Kwang Young’s piece within the V&A Korean section from his “Aggregation” series struck me immediately. The introduction to the Korean V&A collection highlights the Korean’s preoccupation with simple shapes, plain colours and restrained decoration, alongside rich symbolism. The striking style of this ‘relief painting’ spoke to me on first impressions of an intended urgency to convey the intricacies and complexities of Korean tradition and modern life.

The monochromatic tones of the majority of the work, hides on first glace the complex optical illusions; however the viewer is then dramatically drawn in by the focal point of the red crater. For me this injection of colour, which drew me to notice and contemplate this piece, reflected the nature of the Korean exhibition on a whole. The exhibition, one of the smallest of the museum, is hidden down a small corridor, but according to the V&A website is fast growing. Therefore this splash of colour, into the darkness of the work, echoes this idea of a sparking vigor and drive into the distribution of Korean culture. As Chun himself stated, “This process of injecting new colours in my work has been a lot of fun. It makes me happy; it’s like a process of finding hope in the unknown world.”

The work is composed of countless pieces of Styrofoam individually wrapped in pages of books printed on Hanji. 

 

by Jennifer Sterne