Chun Kwang Young: Times Reimagined

The paper used by artist Chun Kwang Young is hand-made hanji, not mass-produced paper. Hanji refers to the traditional Korean paper made of mulberry tree. It is an eco-friendly material that has been proven to have a maximum lifespan of over 1300 years. Hanji is a biologically organic material that can be recycled and become a part of the nature at the fastest rate when it is discarded after being well consumed. After collecting and dismantling second-hand old books made of hanji that has been aged for nearly 100 years, Chun has produced his reliefs, sculptures, and installations by aggregating triangular-shaped paper packages. This form of package was inspired by medicine bags made of hanji that Chun saw as a teenager at the local clinic in the countryside. It was like a spiritual calling from his teenage memory.

The texture and shape of the little medicine bag engraved in the memory hit the artist one day. This idea was gradually developed into substantial concept through insightful contemplation and relentless practice, which eventually made him an international paper artist today. Chun Kwang Young’s paper art is deeply rooted, emotional, and aesthetically relational.

Artist Chun Kwang Young’s works reflect various socio-ecological subiects arising from environmental abnormalities. A sculpture in the shape of a virus, an elarged heart suffering from polluted air with an irregular beating sound, a deformed mushroom overgrown to the size of four meters, a rough and wounded planet that seems tough for humans to inhabit appear in artistic forms based on stunning imagination. On the other hand, fragments of painful memories, such as the destruction of nature due to technology oriented or economic benefit driven development, are wrapped in beautifully dyed paper and delivered to the audience as an art of healing. For the past 30 years, Chun has researched and practiced under the theme of interconnectedness of living beings, developing a unique methodology of conveying his emotion and ambition. He finally settled in the medium of mulberry paper as his dominant aesthetic lanquage. Thus, the nature of durability and permanence embodied in the mulberry paper adds contextual layers to his works.

In ecology, interconnectedness is an absolute factor for the reproduction and survival of all living things, including humans, and it means an essential requirement for ensuring genetic diversity and enhancing sustainability under any adverse conditions such as climate change. Therefore, interconnectedness is the DNA of healing that overcomes the oppression and loss stemming from social disconnection. On the other hand, it is also a strong compelling force that makes art live up to its role, mediating among different discourses for human reflections.

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