Museum shows 4 artists’ installations

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Museum shows 4 artists’ installations

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The white, static space of Whanki Museum has been transformed into a three-dimensional canvas for four artists ― Daniel Buren, Stephane Dafflon, Francois Morellet and Felice Varini ― who have taken full advantage of the museum to show off their creativity. Their 17 installation pieces are dynamic and boundary-free, filling the three-story building located on the steep slope of Mount Bukhan in northern Seoul.
The exhibition, “The Poetics of Space,” was organized to commemorate 120 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and France and proposes a new style of artistic experience based on two concepts: transparency and virtuality. As the expression, in situ, or “on site” in English, frequently appears in describing works by the artists, the methodology that leads the flow of this exhibition can be defined as displaying the works in a way that goes perfectly with a particular space. Being on site means having a one-time validity, as time and space change continuously, and these factors complete the works, which are interpreted in each artist’s own style.
It took more than a year for both the museum employees and the artists to prepare for the exhibition, from discussing the layout to every tiniest detail. However, preparing the in situ works was still challenging as all the pieces were designed to change according to the time of day, location and light.
The 68-year-old, French-born conceptual artist Daniel Buren is sometimes classified as an abstract minimalist for his use of regular, contrasting stripes ―a popular French fabric motif ― to integrate visual space and landmark architecture. The artist strives to contextualize his artistic practice using the stripe as a means of visually relating art to its situation. He uses this “seeing tool” to present his critical standpoint and to challenge traditional ideas about art.
A stripe is a simple pattern, yet, according to Lee Co-ca, curator of the museum, it is used by Buren to expand the viewers’ visual possibilities, allowing them to understand the close relationship between the work and the space. Light, color and shadow are the other three major elements of Buren’s works. Buren presents works that can be appreciated in different perspectives according to the viewer, the light and the position of the viewer. Works such as “Marquage et Projection (Mark and Projection)” can be best appreciated on a sunny day, when the abundant light makes perfect colored shadows reflected through a window covered with colorful cellophane paper in precisely calculated locations. “Deux Couleurs en Font Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept et Plus (Two colors being mixed into three, four, five, six, seven and more),” as can be assumed from its title, only uses two colors, yellow and blue, but the light and angles of shadows enrich the work and create new shades of green, purple and even red. The transparent acrylic panels are lined up regularly, the yellow and blue panels standing diagonally with white striped panels in between.
The Swiss artist, Stephane Dafflon, 34, combines his artistic position with a repertoire of signs and codes from the sphere of visual culture, which he links to architectural and spatial matters. Major elements of his works include color, surface and volume, used to cause a distortion of space. Most of his works look more like graphic arts because of their repetition of motif and symmetrical lines. The artist derives optical illusions focusing on “entirement” and “dissolution.”
Francois Morellet, also from France, has played an important role in geometrical abstraction. He could not attend the exhibition due to health problems, but the 80-year-old artist had sent his son and an assistant to install the work on his behalf. Morellet made an extra commitment to compensate for his absence, as can be seen in the detailed sketch of his space marking the exact spot where his installations should be placed.
Most of his works displayed in this exhibition are neon pieces, which he started creating in 1963. Unexpectedly, “Lamentable” was intended to be a circle of five meters in diameter. One day, he found the circle accidentally twisted and decided sorrowfully to leave the piece that way, and named the work “Lamentable.”
Felice Varini, a 54-year-old, Swiss-born artist makes 3-dimensional paintings that give the impression of a 2-dimensional object. The painted form achieves its coherence when the viewer stands at a certain point, but when he or she moves from that point, the different perspective fragments the artwork, thus creating a different but equally valid vista. Varini uses a projector to find the point from which the complete painting can be viewed, then sketches the shapes and lines, before painting them with oil pastel. Noted for his vast range of canvases, ranging from landscapes and architecture to confined indoor spaces, the artist had chosen unexpected areas of the museum as his canvas this time. Works such as “Ellipse evidee par 7 Disques (Oval with seven scraped out circles)” can be found on the stairs and stereoscopic walls of the museum. Varini focuses on spatial and time restrictions as he works. Ms. Lee said Varini does not want to reveal the exact point where the viewers can see the complete shape of his work, but wants viewers to find their own respective point, each person gaining a different impression of the image. “The viewers will be enjoying how four different talented artists assimilated the space, turning a static place into a dynamic and colorful dreamland,” she said.
To these artists, the notion of space loses its boundaries and configuration. Transparency and virtuality are the keywords of this exhibition. The effect of transparency is maximized in the form of light, color and atypical factors such as repetition and reflection.
Virtuality, in this exhibition, does not mean nonexistence, but a potential of reversible image. The two factors combine to create a new dimension of space, between stability and instability, and between regulation and chaos.


by Chang Sun-young

The exhibition runs until Dec. 3 and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is 8,000 won ($8.50) for adults and 5,000 won for children aged 7-18. The nearest subway station is Gyeongbokgung Station, line No. 3, exit 3. Visitors should transfer to bus No. 1020 or 0212 and get off at Buam-dong Office. The museum is a two-minute walk from the bus station as you make a left turn towards the Dongyang Mill. For more information, call (02) 391-7701 or visit the Web site, www.whankimuseum.org.

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