The works exhibited in Growing Room are laden with literary devices in which fantastical stories and ambiguity play a defining role. The artist, through the use of traditional Korean materials like hanji (mulberry paper), oyster shell powder and ink, creates distinctive compositions built of multilayered textures and multifaceted narratives. His works have an encyclopedic complexity which refers to both the artistic solutions and the dense depiction of narratives that unfold in his paintings with extreme abundance and elating details.
The exhibition title, Growing Room, is borrowed from one of Geun-Taek’s works which will be on view at Newchild Gallery. This particular painting represents a fundamental thematic aspect of the artist’s oeuvre, namely his exploration of how quintessential pictorial meaning emerges and is brought to life within the painting. Appropriating traditional techniques like broken ink and ink diffusion, Geun-Taek imbues his works with “a new space of accumulated time” as he calls it. The result is an interpretation of Korea’s contemporary history and the future of Korean painting. Thus before our eyes, new realities emerge in the specifically formed pictorial structure and expose fresh connections with other layers of reality in a surprisingly self-evident way.
At the core of Geun-Taek’s practice is a poetic transformation that unrestrictedly expands the pictorial space, virtually enlarged through the wandering of his imagination. Playful micro-narratives, landscape motifs coalesce with furnishings of the interior space, organic merges with inorganic elements, trees, bushes, plants and flowers appear next to everyday objects like clothes, books, pictures and newspapers. Everything seems to float in ecstatic uncertainty as if the things were suddenly liberated of any logic or reason. This experience of liberation creates an almost festive mood, in which new perspectives on the definitions of things and new connections between them are facilitated and even welcomed.
Geun-Taek seeks to unconventionally depict new relationships between things that poetically enhance the given meanings of formal structures. In the process, he uncovers the latent and poetic layers of meaning that sensitise us to emotional and imaginary realms. The power of his work resides in his exceptional capability for describing concerns objectively through his materials, perception, and physical performativity. His works seem to merge the past, the present, and the future, as put by art critic Lorand Hegyi.
The uniqueness of Geun-Taek art resides in his ability to make what exists beyond the visible – the invisible – perceptible, like plants growing from an arid field in times of harvest. He successfully attempts to unite time and space, reality and imagination, material and spirit, giving us a rich and enigmatic universe of everyday poetry.
Exhibition Essay by Lorand Hegyi included with press release in link below.