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Jukhee Kwon: Liberated, at October Gallery

Date: Thursday 16 March - Saturday 22 April 2023
October Gallery | 24 Old Gloucester St | London WC1N 3AL | | [Map]

Tickets: Free | More info here
Gallery Talk: JUKHEE KWON in conversation with Gerard Houghton, 3pm Saturday 18 March | Register here
Gallery hours: 12:30 to 17:30 pm, Tuesday to Saturday
Jukhee Kwon, Guerra e pace, 2020
Jukhee Kwon, Guerra e pace, 2020. Paper (book), 30 x 20 cm

October Gallery presents a solo exhibition of works by South Korean artist Jukhee Kwon, who lives and works in Italy. This exhibition comprises new and recent sculptural pieces created entirely from paper. Kwon’s primary material comes from unused and abandoned books, which, by skilful slicing and precision cutting, she converts into captivating pieces that inhabit their surroundings. These ‘found’ books are painstakingly manipulated and transformed by hand, creating sculptures that burst from the books’ spines, stream out in cascading waterfalls, or radiate as paper tendrils to explore ambient surface areas. While Kwon’s latest body of work develops several new avenues of approach, her imaginative leaps and their surprising results remain a constant feature, as does the artist’s evident concern for clarity of expression within each sculpture.

For Kwon, deconstructing these books becomes a process of creative discovery, exploring, identifying and ultimately exposing some inner core of meaning that once revealed can more fully express itself. The artist plays constantly with ideas of complementarity: destruction and recreation, birth and death and other natural cycles. Thus, largescale columns of paper may stand metaphorically for the paper masquerading as trees, suggesting the material cycle of tree book tree that foregrounds the very medium of which the artwork is composed. Dancing Book plays with the notion of a branch with delicate paper tendrils swaying softly in the breeze, while Red Circle Book explores the organic shapes of a flower opening to embrace life. Most significantly, the paper chains of words stay connected to the central spine, and are cut between the lines, with disciplined concentration, in order to remain legible. Furthermore, nothing is lost or wasted as newly sculpted forms are discovered, and these transformational phase changes liberate bursts of pure radiant energy.

Kwon’s more recent innovations combine book sculptures with rolls and loops of paper repeatedly placed side by side, to form subtle yet arresting wall sculptures that embody silence and stillness even as they appear to ripple and flow. Other explorations include the addition of origami figures of folded paper, which can sit bound in tightly serried rows, as in Paradise, or figuratively leap off the walls like birds soaring into space, as in the darker, brooding piece entitled Meditation.

Describing the abundant variety in her sculptures, Jukhee Kwon remarks that inspiration comes from the found books themselves: ‘Discovering an abandoned book is just the first part of the process. After that, I often imagine its time spent in the hands of previous owners. As I cut into the pages, I’m interested in connecting that past to the present moment — patiently awaiting whatever emerges.’

About Jukhee Kwon

Kwon completed her BA Degree in Fine Art at Chung-Ang University, Seoul in 2005 and achieved her Master’s Degree in Book Arts at Camberwell College of Arts, London, in 2012. Kwon first showed at October Gallery in 2013, and the same year the Gallery presented her large-scale installation Arabesque Dream, created from seventeen books, at Abu Dhabi Art Fair. Kwon has presented her work in several exhibitions in the UK, Italy, USA, Belgium and France. October Gallery collaborated with Asia House, London to exhibit Kwon’s sculptures in 2014, 2015 and 2019, as part of the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Her works are in private collections as well as the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

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