Nov 4, 2015

The House of Links

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

The Neighborhood Artists - 13.Insook Hong

A Dictionary of Soojak:Words and hands, And exchanging cups of liquor
I was frustrated. The artist was an eloquent speaker and writer. There is no room for me. What should I tell and write? Ms. Artist, this is not fair. I was anxious for the artist to notice my mind. But the artist looked at me as if he knew what I was up to. Take it easy, easy. Let’s spend a day letting everything down. On the day when the artist opened her new nest to the public, she cannot have been comfortable but she patted me on my shoulder when I was nervous. 

Surprisingly, my impatience and anxiety stopped all of a sudden. I started to see the artist and her studio only. Life and space embroidered with a lot of colors lied before me. Excuse me? I set my foot in her own realm with a mind refreshed. Soojak . I would like to put it this way for me to have a brief but intense meeting with artist Insook Hong. Like this word has several meanings, I hope readers to meet several colors of her.

Chapter 1. Exchange words

The artist was born and grown in Suwon, and has been worked in Suwon as a native of Suwon. There was no art institute in Suwon that she remembered as a ‘country’ in her childhood, but she created her own art through ‘people’, not ‘institute’. Considering her childhood when she enjoyed small school and great nature remained in her sketchbook and was painted on a canvas, can the ‘non-artistic’ past be of the artistic worth?

While the artist and I met each other several times, she did not easily open her story on her working. Even I did not ask her to tell me about her working. Instead, she brought up conversation topics such as politics, travel, people and their daily lives, and I added my thoughts of one kind or another. When we put an end to our conversation, she handed me a few books carefully. I think you can know about me better. I jumped at the books as if aperitif gave me a big appetite. <inspiring conversation>. Like the title of her exhibition, I was inspired by dialogue with her.

Chapter 2. Make by hand

The artist went around the present studio from the time she lived in Shinpoong-dong. When she would like to move to more silent and more spacious place, Hwasung Distric won her heart. It is not that easy to live near cultural properties. While I admired the scenery overlooking Hwasung, she alluded to her troubles. Too many don’ts here. Don’t do this for this, don’t do that for that. But she seemed to think here is worth the troubles. The well-arranged garden and persimmon tree handed down from the former house owner speak instead.

Mostly the elder people live around here. They are creating the unique atmosphere of the district. I just follow what they have done so far. The artist took care of the studio inside and outside with plants as her friends and with the street as a neighbor, and there was not a place untouched by her. In the evening of late fall, do you know how fantastic it is to look up a full moon in the garden? While she was saying that she deeply realized how difficult fixing the house is, she could not stop boasting. Does heaven know her pride? The moon was in the garden of the studio with us on November 4th, the day of the open studio.

Chapter 3. A Masterpiece

She explained the studio for an artist is the space to rediscover the value of others. It was said that the stories of somebody enter into a studio and create an image. So I do not run an ‘event’. When being asked what type of open studio she kept in mind, she answered she wanted to have the time to call each other by name and embrace the presence of each other, not the time full of meaningless encounters. There are so many cultural events in Suwon. There are events day after day. From my point of view, Suwon people feel tired of cultural events. The artist was rather worried about disappearing ‘culture’ in this age of excessive ‘cultural events’. She considered the meanings of ‘real’ culture and ‘real’ relationship have faded away due to the large scale of an ‘event’ and exaggerated cause. For that reason the artist said she would like to know people one by one more deeply in the open studio. She tried to prepare deeply resonant moments and a memorable day of the year, not a common day. As if she spent frustrating nights for a remarkable work of art.

Chapter 4. Confer the Title

At 5 o’clock on November 4. In the open studio of artist Insook Hong, ‘links’ gathered one by one. Her open studio, subtitled as ‘The House of Links’, was a little different from the others. First of all, the artist as a trigger invited some people linked, and they invited some links again. This was the way to list up the participants in the open studio. (Of course, there were applicants who signed up for the open studio.) When the open studio began, participants and the artist looked around the studio which a private house turned into. The 1st floor of the studio reminds us of a little gallery. The fake wall between wide-open spaces separates space appropriately, a dark blue carpet in contrast to white wall gives a spick and span impression. There are evenly spaced photos under the carefully planned lights, and on one side of wall on which scribbling is allowed, there displayed scribbles and drawings of her young nephew.

At the basement of the studio, there is a space for students who learn engraving. They can work in a separate space decorated according to the engraving process. Up to date she could not make an education plan for engraving because she was busy with getting rid of humidity, but she is exploring the free approaches to engraving.

After the studio tour was over, the artist Hong had the time for participants to introduce themselves. Above all she introduced the invitees as ‘links’ by herself and added why she invited them. Following her, the invitees as artist Hong’s links introduced ‘links’ to have a close relationship with themselves, and general participants also explained why they were in the open studio. Thanks to the time for everyone to know each other, dinner time was full of familiarity. As her family joined the studio with the most famous roasted chicken in Suwon, the mood became more like family dinner.

After dinner, the large screen was installed in the garden. Team 3 of the artist’s links told their travel story under the theme of ‘Why I go off on a journey’. Colorful images that an architecture student to Santiago, a painter to India, and a couple going on a honeymoon to Jeju Island delivered made us feel like we set off to the place with them. Following Team 3, artist Hong asked the audience links about ‘why they do not go off on a journey’. For those who answered because they were trapped in a routine or because they could not afford to do, A half day in her studio might be a sweet trip. If the title is conferred as a token of recognizing someone’s efforts, the title on November 4 in on artist Hong and a number of links who gathered in the studio.

Chapter 5. Exchange Cups of Liquor

When the open studio finished, one of the links from a far had warm Vin Chaud in his hand. Participants must have been tired because they stayed in the open air under the chilly weather for a long time, but ten of participants did not leave. Most of them met for the first time here in the open studio, but everyone talked together without being left out. Was it because of the fact that they live a life as a ‘link’ of someone? That was the moment when I assured the studio is a secret place for an artist but on the other hand it is an open space for a lot of beings who an artist invites. I wish my works get deeper. And i wish i become more mature as a human being. The everyday wishes artist Hong quietly spoke became the shelter from the cold that night.

Written by Bora Kang
(Independent Planner/Media Culture Researcher)

Insook Hong

M.A. of Department of Printmaking at Sungshin Women’s Univ.
B.A. of Western Painting at College of Art & Design, Suwon Univ.

Solo Exhibitions
2011 Love beyond Love, NAMU Gallery, Seoul
2009 Old Time Happiness, Avenuel Lotte Art Gallery, Seoul
2008 Cheerful Pain, Munhwailbo Gallery, Seoul
2007 Variation, DaeguMBC Gallery M, Daegu
2003 Peony, Beautiful Store HONG, Seoul
2000 Eldest Sister-Stand like a Picture, Kyungin Museum of Fine Art, Seoul

Planned Exhibition & Group Exhibitions
2013 Inspiring Conversation, NAMU Gallery, Seoul
2012 Vitality of Arts, Daegu Art Factory, Daegu
Family, Yangpyong Art Museum, Yangpyong
Sightseeing of Letters, Zaha Museum, Seoul
2010 Hot Plate, Phoenixbrington Gallery, Brighton, England
2009 Print Your Life (2009 Korean Printing Festival), Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
2007 Writing Paintings, Painting Words: Words and Painting, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
Exhibition of Korean Print Works 1958-2008, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwacheon
Scribbling, SOMA, Seoul
Seoul Art Contest-Print, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
2006 SeMA2006, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
Chadosarinjigye*, CAIS Gallery, Seoul (*Note: Chadosarinjigye is a phrase meaning ‘Borrow a sword from others and kill a person’)
Whistle Stop-Break, Busan Museum of Art, Busan
And others

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
Credits: All media
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