“MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2018: CHOIJEONGHWA – Blooming Matrix” at The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art features the ‘flowery’ works by the Korean artist.
Art Radar takes look at Choi Jeong Hwa’s installation works infused with common and inexpensive consumables used in daily life.
The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is an annual project that supports one of the influential artists who have represented Korea for more than 10 years since 2014. This series is designed to present the new vibrancy and prospect of Korean contemporary art, and to solidify prominent Korean contemporary artists. It also gives an opportunity to established artists to develop a new momentum for expansion in their practice.
Choi Jeong Hwa (b. 1961) creates variegated installations sourcing commonly used inexpensive materials or abandoned consumables such as plastic baskets, piggy banks, brooms and balloons. The formative method of the artist is rebuilding consumer goods that can be seen in everyday life in order to demolish the boundaries between high-end art and popular culture, symbolising the presence of rapid economic growth in Korean society since the 1990s. The director of MMCA Bartomeu Marí is quoted in the press release as saying:
In this exhibition, which blurs the boundaries between the everyday and art, between art and non-art, the viewer can explore the true nature of the creative world of artist CHOIJEONGHWA. The familiar materials that comprise the artworks will allow wide communication with the public, at the same time providing an opportunity to expand the boundaries of contemporary Korean art.
The exhibition “Blooming Matrix” presents the works Dandelion, Blooming Matrix, Ice Flower and Young Flower, and each work sublimates humdrum things that have lost their function into the artwork by giving new meaning to them. The represented works were created from wood, steel and cloth as well as plastic, which is considered to be his iconic representative material.
Dandelion is a new work created for MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2018 and is the result of a participatory project. From March last year, Choi has been conducting a public art project called “Gather Together”, which collects household goods donated by citizens from around Seoul, Busan and Daegu in Korea. As a result, more than 7,000 used tableware were collected and rebuilt into a colossal sculpture entitled Dandelion, measuringin nine metres in height and 3.8 tons in weight. Through this repetition and accumulation of objects and the participation of observers, Choi intends to communicate with the audience and the contemporary art world.
Blooming Matrix is a work that blends a variety of things that Choi collected from disparate places all over the globe. In a space with a high contrast between light and darkness, 146 pagodas are piled up vertically, assembling materials found in everyday life. Through the forest of erected totemic towers, Choi manifests a sense of infiinte time and space, connects the sky and land, and transforms the gallery into a place of silence and memory.
Young Flower utilises golden and silver ornamented children’s crowns over a glaring mirrored surface. The installed crowns repeatedly climb up and down the seven-metre exterior of the surface. Choi made Young Flower as a memorial to the young life sacrificed by the Sewol ferry disaster, a South Korean ferry that sank and killed more than 300 students in 2014, through these crowns that cannot reach the top of the reflected façade. With this work, Choi erects a monument to illuminate the memory of sorrow and grief.
In addition, Feast of Flower, made of tabletop and used kitchenware, Alchemy, made of cast iron pot and jars, Grand Flower, made of washboards, Present of Century, piled up with a mixture of colorful Corinthian Order cuts, all comprise the artist’s unique way of collecting and accumulating objects and his time-consuming use of materials.
Through his installations, Choi Jeong Hwa not only expands the limits of Korean contemporary art, but deviates from the polarisation of Minjung art and modernism, which was the mainstream discourse during the 1990s, also attracting attention as an artist who puts originality and universality into the international art scene.
Soo Jeong Kang
“MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2018: Choi Jeong Hwa – Blooming Matrix” is on view from 5 September 2018 to 10 February 2019 at The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), 30 Samcheong-ro, Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.