Exhibition visit: Place Not Found – Korean Art Now, at the Smokehouse Gallery

By Kuo Chun Hsuan

A view of the inside of Forman's salmon smokehouse itself, from the gallery
A view of the inside of Forman's salmon smokehouse itself, from the gallery

Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery in Hackney Wick presents Place Not Found: Korean Art Now until 3 June. The location inspired curator Eunjung Shin to put it together. It’s the closest art gallery overlooking Olympic Park. Like many of the artists, I had never been to this area before.

‘The gallery space inspired me. It is located on the top floor of Britain’s oldest salmon smokehouse which was forced to relocate to its new premises by the Olympic development.’

‘The identity of Hackney Wick Art scene is changing. Many of Korean artists in Place Not Found have never been to Hackney Wick. I think the rapid change of Hackney Wick is very interesting. Especially 2012, this year. Ongoing development creates many places not found all over Hackney Wick.’

Eunjung Shin, Curator

Luna Jungeun Lee: Untitled (series from the Transitional Period), 2012, acrylic and screen print on perspex. Site-specific installation at Forman's Smokehouse Gallery, 166 x 166cm
Luna Jungeun Lee: Untitled (series from the Transitional Period), 2012, acrylic and screen print on perspex. Site-specific installation at Forman's Smokehouse Gallery, 166 x 166cm

On spiritual meaning, the concept of place not found is essentially a quest of searching identities. Artists were caught in a “place not found” for their heritage and new culture to adapt to.

‘Korean artists came to London for study and were influenced by their cultural surroundings in London. Now the exhibited artworks in Place Not Found are the result, showing how they were influenced by British culture and how they react. They also represent Korean culture and show how they tried to keep distance from their own culture.’

Eunjung Shin

After viewing at the opening party, now it’s time to share about some of the exhibits that had caught my attention. Although I do not have a Korean background, over the years of Korean studying has let me learned more about Korean culture. On top of that I am also a foreign artist myself to London and it helps me relate to these art works.

Beomsik Won, Archisculpture 008,  2012, photo print on paper, 180 x120 cm
Beomsik Won, Archisculpture 008, 2012, photo print on paper, 180 x120 cm

Artist Beomsik Won’s work brought me a familiar yet strange feeling, a combination of bizarre emotions. In a way, it fits the description about contradictions we experience when putting ourselves in a different environment. Just like the photography work, although there are some parts you recognize from bits of the city yet altogether it is still strange scenery to you.

Chinwook Kim: Inside and outside - The abducted moon, 2012. Mixed media, 122 x 195 x 8cm
Chinwook Kim: Inside and outside - The abducted moon, 2012. Mixed media, 122 x 195 x 8cm

For artist Chinwook Kim’s work, I was simple fascinated by the materials and combination he closed to work with. As an illustrator myself, it is simply enjoyable to look and examine another piece of illustration work. Artist let the color and lines run freely across the canvas and separate the fame with distinctive mediums.

 Jukhee Kwon, /fromthebooktothespace/ in the bird cage, 2012. Bird cage, cutting book, 40 x 24 x 24cm
Jukhee Kwon, /fromthebooktothespace/ in the bird cage, 2012. Bird cage, cutting book, 40 x 24 x 24cm

Artist Jukhee Kwon’s bring you to re-examine the beauty of simplicity. Something that may not occur to you could be seemed as a work of art.

Sejin Moon: Untitled #1 #3 #4 #5, Neutral Territory, 2012. Digital pigment print, 125 x 100cm
Sejin Moon: Untitled #1 #3 #4 #5, Neutral Territory, 2012. Digital pigment print, 125 x 100cm

Artist Sejin Moon’s series of photography reposed to what I have known about Korean tradition culture of adequate behaviors. They show the struggling when someone doesn’t not want to just follow what were expected from them from the society.

Jiho Won: Union Jack, 2012. Wood, cable ties, scaffolding net, 140 x 250 x 70cm
Jiho Won: Union Jack, 2012. Wood, cable ties, scaffolding net, 140 x 250 x 70cm

Artist Jiho Won’s work interests me a lot. At some point, a flag is no doubt a symbol of union yet it also separates everyone else that does not fit into the description. This has given me a new perspective about national flags.

Overall it has been a wonderful experience to be introduced to Korean modern art. And if we truly wish London to actually become a multicultural city by taking actions, we need more of such opportunities to exchange opinions and make difference. Therefore I am very much looking forward to see another exhibition on east asia modern art.

Place not Found: Korean Art Now is at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Stour Road, Fish Island, Hackney Wick, E3 2NT

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