Jul 7, 2016 - Sep 18, 2016

G-Live: Fabien & Taeyoung

Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art

G-Live : Fabien & Taeyoung
Contemporary art in the 21st century considers even the process of producing art as a complete work it itself. It is true that 20th century art took place as if throwing a completed work of art at the viewers, with the practice of which we had become familiar. There had been discussions of “Non-Museum” in opposition to such a limited way of conveying art in the 1960s and 1970s, but it was difficult to challenge the absolute definition of art that originated from the fear of dominant space of the ‘art gallery.’ Such logic should be seen more as the result of social binds generated by the written law, limited to the specific space of the ‘art gallery,’ rather than the uncanny sense of distance one feels in gazing upon a work of art that has been completed by the hands of the artist.It is also true that, beyond the range of delicate and complex subjects, the art gallery has been seen as the temple or sanctuary of art, as a place where ‘humanity boasts of its most sophisticated features.’ The approach of the art gallery, which is to display a work of art in an abstract space that runs on a kind of meta-temporality with all the specificity and presence of the work removed, was designated as optimal for presenting ‘limited’ artistry. Contemporary art has reached a point wherein such limited approaches no longer apply, and calls for a further expanded perspective and approach. Art in our time is proliferating through an expandability that goes beyond our imagination, in terms of space, application, object, scope, genre, and concept, continuously evolving. 

Gyeonggi MoMA’s ‘G-Live: Fabien & Taeyoung’ exhibition incorporates diverse perspectives on contemporary art into the interiors of the gallery space, and attempts to expand the exhibition site to one that can be shared by the artist and the viewers. The works introduced on site will not only change our preconceived notion that an artwork must be complete, but also provide an opportunity for the visitors to see the artists’ attitude towards the works, and the message of the masses shown through the works themselves. For this reason, the museum offers a live exhibition of Fabien Verschaere (France) and Chang Taeyoung (Korea)’s works. The live method, which may seem rather unfamiliar, is a method that had been often used in 20th century art. The act of producing artworks at the gallery site took place regularly, conveyed through various media.

The work of Fabien involves continual drawing as if writing a journal, which he refers to as ‘automatic painting.’ Chang Taeyoung calls his work ‘an act of accumulating daily life,’ recording the artist’s mundane activities by shuttling between the conscious and the unconscious. For both artists, the act of capturing the unconscious on the canvas through continuous and repetitive motions is a key point in the production process. Art as the artists see it is the practice of recording one’s own stories as an individual, and natural normality of one’s daily dealings, rather than a macroscopic oppression that goes beyond the scope of daily life. In viewing contemporary art, we may have – from a certain point on – erased out natural thought, pressured by the weighty presence of art.

Fabien’s works is built upon virtual images with reality as the premise. The works depart from his childhood experiences, and continues on to his other stories, reproducing images of the takes in various ways. His images appear familiar, but they do not exist in reality. Even if they do, they are mostly negative symbols. The artist constantly asks of, draws, erases, and fills in the big question of ‘death.’ In Fabien’s reality (short stature), the stories convey his own narrative of being further fettered to ‘death.’

Chang Taeyoung’s canvas presents familiar natural scenery as a realistic vision. However, the closer the viewers get to the canvas, the more they see virtual patterns that are absent in reality, along with numerous ‘Point of Canvas(paper)’s made of the artist’s own rules. The eternal loop of the patterns fills up the canvas and produces the field of vision in its entirety, but the artist calls this ‘erasing the canvas.’ It is an ironic reference to our tendency of judging the world solely based on familiar sceneries or ones that unfold before our eyes. In other words, erasing familiarity would unleash a more free form of imagination.

The “G-Live: Fabien & Taeyoung” exhibition exposes the entire process of production, and will serve as an opportunity to introduce an alternative realm of contemporary art. It bears similarity to the intermittent attempts at ‘present progressive exhibitions’ from the 1960s, but the experience of both the artist and viewers feeling and sharing their own breaths will be a new one. The experiment of free art conducted on the streets, unorthodox art, and the act of drawing presented through the 2014 “Street Art_Grafiti Art” exhibition featured the potential of art, but it also stopped short at presenting complete works while hinting at the production process through the lingering smell of the spray paint. The exhibition space for this event pushes the viewers to face incomplete artworks, and witness the rare process of the artist producing the work itself – in this regard, it may be difficult for the viewers to see it as art itself. However, this exhibition will become a delightful experience if it could capture the movements whereby the preconceived notions of exhibition paradigms undergo transformation.

Visitors of art galleries are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of works, and are even surprised at their own inability to see them all, merely focusing and concentrating on a few. Such a response is natural. Contemporary art had the tendency to present, without any guidance, the artist’s subjective view rather than encouraging the viewers to seek reality or answers. Also, the variety of the presented works undermines the viewers’ concentration, while subjective works are difficult to comprehend without knowing the production process or the artist’s intention behind the piece.

The artist’s production process may be a rather uncomfortable scene for the viewers who expect to see a complete piece. However, we must also remember that a work of art, or what is complete, entails the limits of confining the representation to piecemeal stories from the perspective of the producer, namely the artist. The act of producing the work in the space where the artist actually encounters the viewers may be added spice that moves the work toward completion. The artist’s practice unfolds in the exhibition, shared as experience and feeling with the viewers, instead of the usual format of presenting works along with explanations. It will be a device that helps the viewers focus more on the artist’s sensitivities and attitudes toward the work, beyond the point of how and what the artist draws. Live-painting becomes an alternative experience through which the exhibition space becomes part of the work itself, and also an empirical space to be shared as the artist shows and tells his story.

A. Malraux’s Museum without Walls’ problematized the form of individual art galleries in 20th century contemporary art, asserting that complete works of art fettered to the limited space of the museum represent a form of art that force a unilateral kind of communication upon us. Indeed, we must reconsider the claim that ‘art’ should be understood solely as designated. Let us think about what we are missing from the artist’s work, as he/she processes, creates, and presents art.

The structure of the ‘G-Live: Fabien & Taeyoung’ exhibition also directly shows the process by which the entire exhibition space becomes a work of art, veering away from the general format of presenting complete pieces produced by artists. We will reach a flexible and active exhibition space, unlike encountering artworks only through limited space and pre-established premises. Gyeonggi MoMA’s ‘G-Live’ exhibition will be a symbolic event that shows how contemporary art is “alive,” how it “lives,” and is “living,” serving as a new expansion and experiment for Gyeonggi MoMA as it prepares for the upcoming two decades.

Choi Kiyoung
Gyeonggi MoMA Curator

The Birth of a Vaschaerean Myth 
Beauty and ugliness, the sublime and the grotesque, fantasy and reality. The binary world view humanity has held on to since its primitive days are the fundamental themes of Fabian Vaschaere’s work. Vaschaere was born in Vincennes Forest located at the eastern outskirts of Paris, in 1975. There, the home of Château de Vincennes where Marquis de Sade and the famous iron mask was incarcerated, he spent long years of his childhood at home and in hospitals due to an illness of an unidentified cause. Drawing and comic books were the only source of leisure and training that helped him endure the difficult and wearisome stretch of treatment. One day, the doctor conveyed the news that his illness stems from a genetic cause, and is therefore incurable, and that his life would be different from others’. Finite life in the face of the absolute fatality of death. And the cruel fate to remain somewhere between youth and growth. That was the birth of the Vaschaerean myth. Drawing, which was for ‘killing time’ awaiting the judgment of whether he would live or die, continued on even after the arrival of the final verdict.

"My work started in hospital, as a way of filling time on days of medical examinations. When you're in hospital, you're always waiting for a verdict; drawing of making pictures is an examination of our own soul." "Drawing is a diagnosis. The viewer approves the healing.“

Perhaps, all the artistic activities in human history spring from our inability to overcome the otherness that originates from the chasm between the world and one’s own self. It is difficult to endure oneself, locked away from the world, regardless of the degree to which the isolation extends. The ordeal manifests in the form of negative feelings, for instance a strange sense of alienation, refusal, resistance, fear, or hurt. The inability to overcome otherness occasionally manifests itself in extreme expressions.

"The knife, the killer are very old elements of my vocabulary." "Having the criminal mind face the pictorial... This is what is important: going towards death to understand life... The murder of Father Christmas” (Murdering Father Christmas – Fairytale, Pierre Very, 2008)"

Encounter with Otto Muehl
As is the case with all myths, life and death, here and yonder are essential elements in the Vaschaerean myth. His encounter with Otto Muehl at the art school in Nantes becomes a key milestone in Fabien Vaschaere’s life. In his collaboration performance with Otto Muehl, a Viennese activist artist, Vaschaere engages in a happening wherein he exposes his body bare. This was like a baptism for Fabien, who stood at the boundary between life and death.  

… There are only two topics of discussion: life and death. I don’t like either of them. I’m in-between, like an accident, engine of my activities. …

Vaschaere’s World 
The numerous icons in Vaschaere’s works include common symbols such as death, a girl, mermaid, bird, stars, angels, and princesses, as well as items from the contemporary world, such as the computer, helmet, headphone, plane, a syringe, and cards. The artist draws these objects at one go as if writing a dream diary with a black marker or brushes. He explains this process as “an automatic painting used to capture stories and characters that are instantly created without any plans to draw specific objects.” Meanwhile, his characters don’t even have a concrete narrative, They simply float around him while he works, and then disappears. Also, Vaschaere’s canvases – despite their status a liminal space between life and death – are not fearful like those of Hieronymus. The two dimensional process which omits the texture of the brush or text itself, pushes the viewer to seek out their own fantasies like the shadow plays in Thailand. In addition, his life experiences with various civilizations, myths, and legends are the seedbed of his inspiration. Korean Buddhist art and Kokdu dolls (dolls placed on biers), in which he has been immersed over the past few years, are key characters in his works of late. From an art-historical perspective, we must mention “Figurative Painting,” which was the representative art movement in contemporary French art after the Second World War. Whereas Combas’s canvas finds its subject in the primitive nature of humanity, filled with the essential desire of painting, Fabien Vaschaere’s works embrace various cultures he encounters in life, from pop culture, fairytales, African myths, and Korean Buddhism. 

In Gyeonggi MoMA’s <g-live: fabien & taeyoung> exhibition, Fabien Vaschaere will have an opportunity to show his affection for Korean culture, which he has nurtured over the past few years as he shuttled between Korea and France. I would like to share the joy of finding various characters Vaschaere has been focusing on the past few years, such as tigers and old men we see in Korean folk religion and Buddhist temples, and Kokdu dolls used for biers. Fabien Vaschaere, an artist who creates the myth of salvation for himself from folktales and legends even we ourselves have forgotten. Would we be able to determine whether he has been cured by looking at the products of his toils, as the artist himself said? Monk Hyangjeok, the head priest of Haein Temple who met Vaschaere a few years ago during his visit to Korea, referred to him as someone like a ‘shaman.’ All artists are, in fact, like ‘shamans,’ entities who stand between artistic salvation and the status of a viewer. What kind of salvation are we seeking in art, and would we be able to find it?

Lee Jiwon
Independent curator

Hoping for “Gyul” to Elicit Picturesqueness
“How close is the visual information coalescing on the human retina (gaze) to the essence of the observed object? Could we view the results of an artist’s faithful response to visual input as representation?” What an artist tries to say through a work of art is based on his/her own understanding of the represented object on a smaller scale, and also an act of pondering on and expressing his/her thoughts on the workings of Nature (the cosmos) and providence, on a larger scale. This is why an artist cannot be satisfied with simply recomposing the visual input collected through his/her eyes, driving the artist to justify the act of seeking an intersection with the discursive system or natural philosophy. However, since visual representation cannot exist without visual data, the role of the artist is to interpret the visual input and impose certain orders and rules, the consequence of which takes the form of an art work. We must see artist Taeyoung Chang’s works from this perspective. 

Taeyoung Chang’s art arises from the process of interpreting and reconfiguring an object through “picturesqueness” – the point of interest here is that the picturesqueness we find on his canvas is distinct from the representative techniques of traditional landscape paintings.

Unlike traditional ink-and-paper landscapes, which elicit “picturesqueness” through the harmonic combination of the represented objects such as the mountains, rocks, trees, water, and clouds, he enlists picturesqueness as a way of endowing a certain order that encompasses the entire canvas. In other words, in his works, objects of different materiality such as mountains, rocks, trees, water, and clouds are newly arranged in accordance with the ‘picturesque’ characteristics the artist imbues his canvas with. This means that his gaze is fixed upon a point that does not appear within the canvas, going beyond faithful representations of the visual phenomenon. This objective comes clearer through a series of works that portray mountain peaks reflected on the surface of water.

From a philosophical perspective, humanity can only come close to actuality through shadows, the implication being that even the visual data our eyes collect is merely a shadow of the actual entity. That is, there is a need for us to question what he saw through the represented object; how he understands the represented object through his own experiments, and how he seeks out ways to share the results of this understanding with others.


With regard to the above, Taeyoung Chang invokes ‘Joongwha Jimi(中和之美)’ (Within harmony lies beauty) from 『Akki(樂記)] (a classical text on music)’s [Akron(樂論)] (chapter about musical theory), and explains the point where Nature and artistic intent become one through “gyul.” This is most intriguing, for calling the rule that governs the paper/canvas “gyul,” and asserting that every object within must be interpreted according to this rule, is akin to understanding and explaining Nature (cosmos – the principle that governs everything) through “gyul.”

Let us delve further into the artist’s reference to “gyul.” He visualizes “gyul” by connecting it to the meaning of waves, parallel alignment, and connection. This is how the painting is expressed through the connectivity of short bush touches. However, given that the work in question is one where a form is shaped and erased through the flow of meaningless strokes, the object the artist captures becomes yet another Nature, borne through a certain set of rules. This process can be explained through the yin/yang theory in the Eastern tradition, as it shares its roots with traditional landscapes. This in turn means that his works stand within the legacy and fetter of tradition, and that his originality can be swept up in the larger currents of tradition Therefore, the “gyul” we see in his work still remains in the realm of figurative expression, and is the result of his understanding of Nature (cosmos). As the trace of his desire for the world he seeks is yet unclear, his works may keep the gazes of the viewers at the level of curiosity. I believe this to be due to the fact that while he achieved his own perspective in seeing and understanding the world, he still hasn’t understood Nature (cosmos) he saw in his own way, or drew it out in his own expression.

Even if one successfully persuades the viewers that “the cosmos looks like this if viewed through this perspective,” the viewers will not be moved by his work if he cannot explain why such a perspective must be adopted. Gazing upon an object through art is the entry point that allows the viewers into the world an artist has formed. If there is a way for us to enter a world where we may share the artist’s own views and thoughts through the “gyul”s and “picturesqueness” he creates, such as idealized Nature, the viewers’ internal scenery, imagination, images that are easily dismissed, incomplete worlds, or worlds that are forced upon us through texts, we could delight ourselves simply by imagining such possibilities.

Sung-Hyun lee
Doctor of Arts

Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art
Credits: Story

Hosted by : Gyeonggi-do, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
Organized by : Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan-si
Supported by : Korea Mecenat Association, Arts Council Korea, Samhwa Paints, NCOM
Artists : Fabien Vaschaere, Taeyoung Chang

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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