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Shine a Light on KCC’s first birthday

Choi Jeong-hwaIt’s coming up to Seollal, the start of the year of the Ox, and it’s also the KCC’s first birthday. It is a Korean tradition for the babe to dress up in a birthday hanbok and select symbolic items from a table laden with food and symbolic objects – the object that the infant selects supposedly predicting his or her future success.

Choi Jeong-hwa traffic cop statueTo mark this auspicious conjunction of events, the KCC is holding a solo exhibition of work by Choi Jeong-hwa, the hip Korean artist who designed the centre’s interior (right, pictured at the KCC’s launch party a year ago). Those who have wandered along Northumberland Avenue recently will have seen a collection of Choi’s trademark giant police manikins guarding the reception area – these are often found in Choi’s gallery installations (example left). Also lurking inside the KCC is one of Choi’s familiar giant inflatable lotus blossoms, and much more, including work produced in collaboration with local schools in Westminster.

The exhibition commences on 29 January. Here’s the official press release:


The Korean Cultural Centre (UK) is pleased to announce the upcoming solo show of Choi Jeong Hwa ‘Shine a Light’ in commemoration of the first anniversary of the opening of the Centre.

‘Shine a Light’ focuses our attention on seemingly worthless everyday objects, especially non-biodegradable ‘plastics’. Driven by his keen interest in re-generation and re-cycling, Choi’s art installations symbolically raise questions about environmental issues. Discarded Korean traffic police dummies are reborn as art sculptures while Colourful plastic bags hang on trees to give rise to a new and ephemeral landscape. Encountering the inherent possibility and beauty of discarded objects, viewers recognise the positive and creative visual impact of throwaway plastics, banners and neon signs. ‘Shine a Light’ engenders multiple meanings. Individually insignificant objects become splendid when gathered together as the accumulated reflections of the ‘shininess’ of plastics under the blinding brightness of LED lights breaking through stereotypical notions of artistic beauty. ‘Shine a Light’ pushes us to the boundaries of the communicability and applicability of art.

One of the main installations inside the Centre takes the shape of a coloured mass of plastic objects collected together by hundreds of students following workshops with several Westminster schools. By creating an ‘Alternative Spectacle’, by utilising the discarded and unnoticed materials of today’s world, Choi leads us to a new understanding of the narrow but complex line between art and everyday objects.

Choi Jeong Hwa is both an artist, and a designer of buildings, furniture and furnishings. One of the most dynamic and well-known of Korean contemporary artists, his work has been presented at numerous biennials including Liverpool (2004), Venice (2005), and Singapore (2006), as well as at Asia House, London (2006) and Wolverhampton (2007).

On initial viewing, the strong design elements and colours of Choi Jeong Hwa’s works seem like Pop Art. However, Choi Jeong Hwa’s works involve finding and exploring the intrinsic value hidden beneath a surface brilliance. The surface to inner dialectic of his visual aesthetics challenges and questions us, the viewers, who have perhaps become too content with other forms of contemporary art. In ‘Anybody, Anything, Anyway’ Choi Jeong Hwa covered a building with discarded colourful banners. More recently, in ‘Get together, Gather’ he studded the Seoul Olympic Stadium with nearly two million pieces of discarded plastics, turning something already out of date into what seemed likes a jewel.

Limited editions of Choi Jeong Hwa’s catalogue will be available during the exhibition period. An exhibition catalogue will be published later.


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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