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Virtuality and Reality Surrounding Happiness

Sunyoung Lee (Art Critic) 2018


Keywords such as 'faith' or 'duty' in Hyunik Cho's exhibition Duty of Faith II, are unfamiliar concepts in modern art where it went on to decouple truth, goodness and beauty. The exhibition title, "Duty of Faith" is a political satire, and at the same time, it reflects the artist's disposition responding very much in earnest on art and candidly on the situations of life he had been confronted with at the time. "Duty of Faith", combined with antique calligraphic style, may be a subject that is so important to the extent that it is banal, even, and it is so obvious that it is not even worth mentioning. In this exhibition, Cho revealed his own personal territory through the eyes of a child. Although it is a personal territory that can be reluctant because it is so trivial and so lascivious, in this exhibition, through works that borrowed the eyes and hands of a child, the territory is being revealed in an unusual way. Scenes which are recognizable to viewers who raise their own children, however partial they may be, gave a new kind of sensation to the artist who had been, with grave style, concerned with the artwork's degree of completion for all those years. The photographs taken randomly in continuous shoots, are free from the frame which one can fall into when being too absorbed in the content or refining the forms too much.

A child who plays innocently in the microcosm called home is the archetype of the artist. The child who has a strong sense of being the parents' alter ego because he resembles them informs us the direct relationship between play and art. Art is a way of playing, regaining such archetypical conditions after becoming grown up. The human species, which needs long periods of protection as they were born incomplete compared to other animals, sublimated its own weakness to its merit, play and cooperation being the representative cases. They all premise on flexibility. Flexibility is a characteristic of a child. In this exhibition, the artist piled up a tower connecting from the ground up to the ceiling of the exhibition room using his child's lego blocks and set up a shadows theatre with his child's dinosaur toys. Had a child's world of play be bright and horizontal, an adult's world of play is rather dark and vertical. It is because although adults play like children, they also keep in mind the conditions of play. To maintain or improve the conditions is the job of one who is the adult. In the piece Shadow Play-The World of Dinosaurs, where movements of massive shadows cast over on the far sides of the walls, wonders of childhood is being transposed into grotesqueness.

Such transposition reflects the difference of a child and an adult. In other words, it implies that the belief in which there may be something beyond a rainbow can change into doubt of there may be nothing beyond. An artist is someone who rewrites the history of such betrayal in his/her own ways. As if worrying about the collapse of the tower piled up with blocks of all sorts of colors, it is filled with 'grotesqueness, the other side of the familiar everyday'(Freud). In the scene where parents are together with children who look just like them in the piece Duty of Faith-Family Photo, it sparkles with the bond of family members and expectations on happiness. The wallpaper background glittering with golden light is a general image on the happiness of families in front of affluent table setting. The slick wallpaper exudes with kitsch vibes. Abraham Moles sees kitsch as a phenomenon shared by the Western society where it pursues material happiness. According to him, kitsch is the art of happiness and hence lies kitsch's overwhelming universality. The wallpaper, which reacts more strongly to lighting than oil paints, holds maximum amount of light which is used by religions of all ages and countries. In earthly life where it lives depending on the sun, light is the source of affluence.

Sanctity derived from the expectations on unlimited affluence. The method of reaching sanctity was transcendental as it is shrouded in mystery in every society. Sanctity is represented through regular rituals. Had religion be not merely an institution but the unconsciousness, religion still exists. In the piece Duty of Faith-Birth, which is hung separately in a deeply-set dark space like the niche of religious buildings, a thick beam of light piercing through the grey darkness shines on the child and the mother. As the lighting in the exhibition space shines on the beam of light inside the painting, strongly, it seems like an installation work combined with the lighting rather than it being a painting that is simply hung on the wall. Radical Feminism suggests 'what is personal is what is political' and tried to disintegrate the boundaries of public/personal territories which eventually oppresses not only women but also men. Had Hyunik Cho's work be religious, it is not monotheism but polytheism. Hence, religious aspect is, rather than it being a specific religion, it is related to a certain basic attitude which mortal human beings have to take when dealing with the infinite time and space. To the artist, art also belongs to such infinite territory.

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