Critic's Note: Serious Critique, Playful Expression
Kang Young Min’s 2009 work titled, Reconstruction-Seoul was a notable example that best represented the artist’s aspirations. Through this work the artist persuasively illustrates the bizarre isolation of “inhabitants of contemporary metropolis Seoul who harbor complex and hectic relationships, whose existencea are reduced to a mere pixel.”
There is always a subtext on the problematics of civilized society in Kang Young Min’s artwork. There is a sincere recognition and analysis of the bizarre reality that we live in, the barbarism disguised as civilization, and the isolation of humans and objects that are all infused into his imagery.
His methodology of expressing his serious inquiry and critical perspective is dramatic, sensitive, and playful rather than austere or tragic. A diverse range of methods, such as, spectacle, dramatic emphasis, sarcastic innuendo, paradox, deconstruction, synthesis of imagery, and conflict are employed to fine tune the weight of his messages. Accordingly, the words of the late Paik Nam June that art needs to be “fun” comes to mind--an emphasis on the significance of maintaining pleasure and a fun attitude even when reflecting social and historical problems. For instance, in Kang Young Min’s work installting a cooler in a refrigerator or air-conditioner, artist's notion of generating heat in order to cool the heat, is a parody on the self-contradictory discrepancies that abounds today. In this work, the internal mechanisms exposed like intestines and the wrecked lubricator are messages to awaken and recognize the perilous imbalance of our social order which supports our society and economic system.
Whether it is a plastic container or the historical context of the Defense Security Command site, Kang Young Min slightly twists or reverses his subject matter to reflect on our times and society.
As the artist himself states, his methodology is related to the artist’s “transfer from artist-centered romanticsm towards artwork-centered savvy.” After all, the artist is recognizing the fact that the venue where the work is shown, be it a museum or gallery, is not the heated site where real events are played out. Therefore a staged approach is more apt as exhibiting space, and this recognition has also influenced the makeup of his work. Nonetheless, the fine tuning manipulation between his methodology of expressing “fun” and his dramatic presentations of social inquiry is ever more vital.
Kang Young Min is not limited to painting, which he majored in college, but freely engages sculpture, a variety of interactive media, and installation. An artistic genre should be a range of possibilities and not a set of regulations or restrictions. His resistance against confinement to one position and Kang Young Min’s engagement with a variety of visual material is also another strong potential of this artist. This flexibility is also apt to his approach of “pressing towards the fundamentals of the truth in this world by deconstructive analysis.”
Artist's Education: Seoul National University, M.F.A., Painting.