Korean Eye | Perceptual Trace
START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery 13-17th September
Chan Hyo Bae
Chung Hyon Kim
Dae Hun Kwon
Dong Yoon Kim
Seung Wook Sim
Sun Young Byun
Perceptual Trace presents key Korean artists who collectively address notions of memory and their perception of the past. The term ‘Perceptual Trace’ references one of the states of memory required in relation to a human’s motor skills. It is described as ‘a reference mechanism that forms the basis of the subject knowing the correctness of a response as learned’. This concept of how a response is learned is an idea that connects the artists in this exhibition, and these works demonstrate a deliberate ‘unlearning’ and playful subversionary of traditions, culture and heritage. This idea manifests in the works by acclaimed photographer Chan Hyo Bae. He adorns regal and aristocratic costumes derived from 16th and 17th century England, inspired by the iconic portraits he viewed of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I in western galleries and museums. Exploring the idea of the West’s distorted view towards the East and ‘Orientalism’, resulting from cultural prejudice, Chan Hyo composes iconic photographic portraits that present a prejudiced notion of the West. The artist highlights the cultural disparities and absurdity of cultural preconceptions and prejudices. They suggest a fascinating shift and defiance of pre-conceived notions of ‘Orientalism’, authenticity and one’s identity.
This historical tracing of the past and its manipulation is also evident in the immaculate sculptures by artist Meekyoung Shin. She presents a collection of meticulously produced decorative objects and vases that appear to originate from 16th century China. These ‘relics’ are highly decorated, hand-painted with intricate designs referencing patterns found on Chinese porcelain. The artist translates these historical images onto her sculptures, however Shin creates these objects using soap, rather than the expected porcelain or marble. Soap is a transient material, easily eroded and manipulated – the artist’s use of this medium to replicate these ancient vessels implicitly alludes to questions of originality, reproduction and the reinterpretation of cultures and identity over time. Using this medium, the artist attempts to question the meaning and authority of these old artefacts, and successfully deceives the viewer with her craftsmanship and subversive interpretation of traditional sculpture.
Many of the works in this exhibition also investigate how individuals recall and reimagine events and moments from the past in ways that blur the lines between reality and invention. Dong Yoon Kim’s photographs echo this notion, with a conceptual and literal tracing of images and memory, where particular locations or objects, in this case a roundabout and children’s climbing frame, are represented in multi layers, suggesting the often obscure act of recollection. The images become distorted and abstract, a common experience when trying to conjure a memory from the past, where your perception of the event is altered and reinterpreted.
This exhibition shines a light on the exciting and exceptional works that are being produced by artists from this region, giving them a highly visible international platform at the fair. These works challenge perceptions of place, time, identity and nationality and highlight how we often fall victim to these misconceptions, a universal experience that connects us all.