Curious and crafted, if cold sculpture and installation
This article is from 2007.
South Korean born artist Chongbin Park moved to London in recent years, and the sense of fragility and alienation he feels as a foreigner within the city has formed the backbone to much of his recent practice. Yet there is little on show here to suggest the culture he came from, the culture he now inhabits, or indeed the reasons for his feelings of alienation. Instead these concepts are addressed in much more abstract terms via photography, video and sculpture.
The dominant, double life-sized sculpture, ‘Looking at Him’, explores the generic concept that outward strength often masks inner fragility. It is a beautiful, meticulously crafted over-sized Dobermann, nose pointed skyward as if obediently awaiting its master’s command and appears to be made from metal, though it is in fact graphite covered paper, which could be destroyed with a single blow. The faceted structure gives it a robotic appearance and a childish simplicity, which may have been intentional, but leaves it feeling cold and unemotional.
Squeezed next to this work is a low-hanging section of an industrial pipe into which a video loop is projected from behind. The title, ‘Circle’, echoes the shape of our view hole through the pipe, within which we see a foetus-like figure standing in gaudy pink liquid, turning and twisting as if searching for a way out. Though some sense of the isolation Park seems intent on expressing is found here, and in flickering elements elsewhere, one can’t help feeling that the outwardly slick styling of this exhibition ultimately masks a lack of theoretical substance.
The Corn Exchange Gallery, 561 7300, until 9 Aug, 11.30am–4.30pm, Free.