3 - 27 APRIL 2014
HADA Contemporary is pleased to present new works by Park Seungmo (b. 1969), which bring together many concerns that originate from the Eastern philosophies. By creating immersive illusionistic environment for viewers’ immediate and direct engagement, he narrates the key aspects in his oeuvre such as illusions of realities.
The long tradition of studies and theories on the mirror and the reflection alludes the myriads of meanings and associations they carry. Although initially used as the symbols of the wisdom, self-knowledge and purity, gradually they came to be associated with the negative values as the vanity, deception and illusion from the transitory and shallow nature of the reflection. Perhaps, the most widely known is the young Narcissus of a great beauty who wastes away his life while self-admiring his reflection in the water. In A Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the portrait of beautiful Dorian acts as a mirror that reflects his age and sinful acts showing the true nature of perpetually youthful protagonist. Furthermore, Sturken and Cartwright suggest that Jacque Lacan’s (1901-1981) ‘mirror phase’ theory is not about the mirror as a reflection of self, but about the mirror as the constitutive element in the construction of the self. Here, Park employs the invisible and intangible mirror that divides the exhibition space into two, a present reality and its reflection to elaborate the idea that we would not otherwise be able to see. The unseeable mirror is the vital object that emphasise the illusion of the real, as the real itself does not differ to its own reflection in its appearance. The notion of the image, self and reality as the construction of fragmented illusions accelerated and concretised further in the modern and postmodern era through diverse philosophical minds as Günther Anders (1902-1992) and Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) with the advent of the media and its aesthetics and criticism. Especially, Baudrillard highlights this fragile reality of the ‘perpetual motion picture’ as ‘it is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal… The desert of the real itself.’
‘The dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda, 연기, 緣起) means everything exists through abundant reciprocal relationship of causes (hetu, 인, 因) and conditions (pratyaya, 연, 緣), thus without these relationships there is no fruit of one’s action (phala, 결과, 果). All these environmental relationships together form ‘me’ and my ego. If you look closely, wire mesh is nothing more than what it is. And these meaningless layers of wire mesh together show something that is illusionistically real through the shadow. In the end, we all appear like the illusionistic real that has been put together through the diverse relationship.’ – Park Seungmo
In Hinduism, the atman refers to the eternal self, the real self beyond ego or false. It is often referred to as spirit or soul and indicates our true self or essence that underlies our existence which also supports the idea of reincarnation. Ironically, the artist brings together luminous neon signs, the product of modern age that symbolises ceaseless development, to solemnly declare this cyclical nature of the universe and our life. Furthermore, Buddhist practitioners believe on the four noble truths (dukkha, samudāya, nirodha and magga, 고집멸도, 苦集滅道) that the origin of suffering (samudāya, 집제, 集諦) is from the three roots of evil – the greed and desire, ignorance or delusion and hatred and destructive urges . Hence, one need to seek the path to the cessation of suffering (magga, 도, 道) following the principles of the Eightfold Path also known as the Middle Way to search for the enlightenment. As seen from Buddha is not gold (2014) that derives from the traditional Eastern sculpture forms of the seated Siddhartha amidst deep meditation away from the varnitas of life before becoming Śakyamuni. Similarly, the burden and the pain of Narcissus and Dorian originate from this samudāya and not acknowledging the impermanence of life as once taught by Buddha. Interestingly, these philosophies fundamentally shaped the writing of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) in his book The World as Will and Representation (1818) that played crucial part in influencing other contemporaries as Richard Wagner (1813-1883) enrapturing him to sketch an opera, The Victors (1856), based on a story from the life of Buddha which were later explored in Parsifal of self-renouncing, reincarnation, compassion - although differ from the inevitable misunderstanding of the original beliefs of the Eastern philosophy during the time. Whether it is a Greek mythology, a literature and a stream of philosophy, the essential principles underneath fundamentally question and negate the essence of nature and life distinctly reflecting the philosophy of ancient Eastern sages. These works are Park’s effort towards the emancipation of his true self, practicing the philosophy as once Wagner used as to fuel his creativity, in turn, questioning us of our own.
Park Seungmo (b. 1969) lives and works in Seoul, New York and Berlin. He received BFA at Dong-A University, Busan. He has exhibited widely including Geonggi Museum of Art, Pohang City Museum, Seoul Art Center, Insa Art Center Seoul, Lotte Gallery Busan, Museum of Arts and Design New York, Saatchi Gallery London, Fairmont Bar Al Bahr Abu Dhabi, Blank Space Gallery New York, Kips Gallery New York, Ever Harvest Art Galery Taipei among others.