Commemorative Exhibit for Jeon Kuk-kwang

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Commemorative Exhibit for Jeon Kuk-kwang

The creator of modern intellectual sculpting in Korea, an artist who renounced his professorship to concentrate on his art, a genius who won the prestigious Grand Art Exhibition of Korea, and a charismatic personality who loved to drink, sing, and write; this was sculptor Jeon Kuk-kwang (1945-1990).

In the summer of 1990, while boat-riding with his family at Yangpyong, Jeon, heavily intoxicated, plunged into the water and died instantly of a heart attack. Since his death ten years ago, Jeon has become a legendary figure in the art world.

An exhibition commemorating ten years of his absence is now open at the Gana Art Center in Pyongchang-dong, Seoul. Entitled 'Flash amid Flint', the exhibit will run from June 15 to July 9. Ninety bronze and stone sculptures from his reknown "Pile" and "Mass" series will be displayed along with thirty of his sketches and drawings.

Works from the "Pile" series reveal a leaden but rhythmical movement made from numerous bronze and stone layers, while pieces from the "Mass" series display a myriad of transformations in spite of their ordered and uniform lattice structures. Comprised mostly of works from the "Mass" series, 'Flash amid Flint' leans more heavily toward Jeon's aesthetic beliefs of the eighties.

One of his many memorandums from the period reads, "Will I die early? To live hard and die early. To live in mediocrity and die." In another, Jeon writes, "Water surface rolling up and down, wide plains forming an eternal halcyon streak, hills drawing lines and building up mass; thunder strikes against the sky, and I feel the air brush against my skin. These experiences I must all melt into one single mass."

Jeon devised a new artistic style for his sculptures called 'Analytic Reduction" in which he deconstructs all of nature into its most basic "atomic" elements and develops a novel artistic interpretation of nature.

Kim Bok-young, art critic and professor of fine arts at Hong-ik University, discusses Jeon with pride, "Jeon experimented with the imminent quality of nature surrounding mass. His sculptures question the philosophy of space and time. They render a sublime world replete with cogitation, perception, and movement."
Sculptor Yang Hwa-sun, widow to Jeon, offers an explanatory biography on Jeon, entitled "Smile and Drink: Jeon Kuk-kwang's Sculpture and Life" to supplement the exhibition.



by Cho Hyun-uk

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