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A Man Standing Upside Down

Hyun Chung2001

Korean Art Museum Association

Korean Art Museum Association

Railroad tieChung Hyun created a new type of figurative installation during the late 1990s to the early 2000s. In this piece, Chung used railroad ties to show the distorted human body bordering on the abstract. The artist said, “One day, when I saw a deserted sleeper, I felt its silent suffering under the rails standing against the heavy weight of trains and bad weather. The feeling was intense. The existence of the sleeper dawned on me just like that of a human being.” According to the artist, he did not see the tie merely as material but as a suffering being. He saw it as a life form with a history. This is why the group of tie figures has appeal to viewers. It is impressive, not because it is a recycled material, but because the history of suffering of the figures communicates to us as if they were human beings.

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Details

  • Title: A Man Standing Upside Down
  • Creator: Chung, Hyun
  • Date Created: 2001
  • Physical Dimensions: w1060 x h2150 x d460 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Medium: Railroad tie, plaster
  • Critic's Note: The Esthetics of Restitution and Deviation -Chung Hyun’s Works- Chung Hyun has been working so vigorously since he came back from Paris, and this can be seen from his brief solo exhibitions held during last six years- he was able to held three exhibitions in main museums in Korea. After coming back from Paris, he started working with plasters. By hitting the earth chunks with wooden sticks and shovels, he gave volume and sharp edges to it. This led his works to have the close relations to the concept of traditional sculptures since the artist created human figures in voluminous shapes. Post-Paris works are voluminous so they can be compared to the skeleton figures that he had worked on in his Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts. In Paris, he added volume to this linear works- and this is said to be that his works has been in the cycle of restitution and deviation. The line is replaced by the volume, and in turn, the idea of volume is overtaken by line. The two ideas co-exist in his work of railroad ties show, which was held in National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea in 2006. The groups of figures were displayed in a long passage, connecting different exhibition halls and in the museum. Chung Hyun’s railroad tie figures remind us of the historic relics- the clay soldiers of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Chung’s figures convey the energy of the earth, which is discussed as monuments of representing the fierce confrontation and reconciliation between human beings and industrial society. He has been interested in the railroad tie for a long time. In fact, he placed the railroad and observed for over ten years, and then started working with it, which can be said as discovery becomes creation. Chung believed the tie not as a mere material, but as a being which has a history through the days of endurance. Often, he uses abandoned or disused materials like railroad tie, asphalt and concrete, the industrial wastes. However, Chung finds the strong energy from them and finds out the history they have. The wastes have lost their function but still have their layers of time and history. The selections are materials often unusual, and this is one of the reasons that the discovery of medium has such a huge meaning to him. ‘The life itself, the untouched and raw, and the unexpected image’ are the cardinal principles controlling Chung’s entire world of art. His works contain the language of deviation. Chung’s exhibition held in Kim Chong Young’s Museum of Art was focused on his works made with the masses of asphalt concrete (ascon). This is the material lying on the street while the tie is under the railroad. It also has the invisible weight of time and energy inside. Again, Chung’s choice of ascon was revolutionary since it is very rare material to use. Chung Hyun also believes drawing is important part of sculpture. For him, the sculpture and drawing are deeply related. He puts the lines and strokes running on the panel in front of the forms. The lines are finished before the action of drawing is given to the panel. This suggests the connection with his sculpture where the materials expose their own presences before the forms. Not only the notion of repetitive rotation of the linear and the voluminous, but also the idea of rotation of the horizontal and the vertical can be found in Chung Hyun’s recent works.
  • Artist's Education: Hongik University. Seoul, Korea. B.F.A. & M.F.A., Sculpture.Diplome de I`Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux-Arts de Paris, France

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