Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery presents Conjuring Constellations, a solo exhibition of Korean artist Noh, Sang-Kyoon. On view April 29 – June 4, 2011.
Noh, Sang-Kyoon chooses to follow his personal mythos as a source and driver for his creative process. Covered in thousands of sequins that he threads together by hand, the early sculptures and canvases of Noh, Sang-Kyoon trace their origins to both the ordinary and the spiritual-from the memory of his mother’s spangled bag and the costumes of singers on television, to a near-death childhood experience, when he nearly drowned. He realized then that he “could die in vain, as nobody, as nothing, with no purpose, as if a fish without scales that is doomed to perish.” He later translated these memories into a series of early work where sequins created the shining appearance of life-saving fish scales.
In his past work, the Buddha series entitled “For the Worshippers”, Noh, Sang-Kyoon elevates everyday objects to the meditative realm – an act that is both subtle and startling. A Buddha statue loses its previous meaning as a majestic symbol of great reverence and religious power, and becomes instead a deity that is more human, humorous and approachable. Noh, Sang-Kyoon’s Buddha doesn’t wear a monk’s robe but rather an ornate, flashy garment of sequins.
Following his early fish and Buddha series and over time, the artist’s use of sequins has grown more layered and multi-dimensional as he creates works with single colored sequins on a flat canvas, reminiscent of minimalist paintings. While in his early fish series, the shiny disks worked to reference the appearance of scales, in his later works the conceptual and the spiritual are increasingly juxtaposed with the material and the imaginary world. By mining the characteristics of sequins to create optical illusions, he reveals his work as fantasy but also, paradoxically, as part of how we recognize the world in which we live. What is seen, perceived and believed is no longer simply the truth, but a phenomenon where the real and the spiritual collide and our assumptions of how an object is meant to be seen are challenged. The works become highly subjective and audience participation becomes an active part of his works.
Noh, Sang-Kyoon’s most recent works show further departure from his first two phases. In his latest series Constellations, we begin to see circles of sequins, some small and separate, some larger, merging with one another in chaotic shapes, on large canvases. At first, they seem to be abstract representations of organic life or like a collection of cells growing in all directions. On closer inspection though, the viewer begins to notice that the central points of the larger merged circles form a discernable pattern that are akin to the constellation. These works replicate stars in the night sky. The artist transports the viewer to the realm of the star worshippers, people over the ages who love the magical and changing patterns that stars create in the blue-black canvas that is the hemisphere. In creating these star constellations, the artist is enabling the viewer to seek a personal narrative in the world-narrative, to create order out of seeming chaos, and to find one’s place in the world.
Noh, Sang-Kyoon was born in 1958 in Nonsan, Korea. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting at the Seoul National University and later studied in New York, where he received his Masters in Painting from Pratt Institute. In 1999, he was selected to represent Korea at the 49th Venice Biennale where he gained international attention. His work has been exhibited in Korea, Japan, China, France, England, Germany, and the United States. This is his third solo exhibition at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.