Review

Seung Yul Oh’s memmem

I was very excited when I read that Seung Yul Oh was going to be exhibiting at Starkwhite on K’Road.  I enjoy his work and have been patiently waiting for an exhibition in Auckland, especially when I had read about his show MOAMOA which was a joint project between Dunedin Public Art Gallery and City Gallery Wellington.  It was just a matter of time for his works to make their way up the country 🙂

memmem is of a smaller scale when compared to MOAMOA, which was a large survey of Oh’s oeuvre for the past decade.  You could almost liken the size of the exhibitions to the letters in the titles being of lower and upper case.  memmem continues to explore the diverse mediums that Oh employs: in this, he presents a bevy of paintings and an assortment of sculptures, all minimalistic and of muted hues that befit the stark ivoriness of the space at Starkwhite.

The six canvas paintings are all titled Periphery.  They are nearly entirely white save for their edges – each edge is painted with a different colour, and no two coloured borders are the same on the six works.  These paintings are of a size that their edges could easily become secondary or incidental when standing before them.  Yet here, Oh brings the peripheral in, enlivening them with colour and challenging how we would traditionally view works of this stature.  In a way the focal point has now become the perimetric borders, though it also could be said that the colours serves to highlight the achromatic canvas and its simplicity.  It is also interesting to note the way that the contrasting colours meet in the corners of each painting – three of the corners resemble butt joints whilst one resembles a mitre joint.

I just adore Oh’s Dottori sculptures.  Larger than life, these five gorgeous acorns are made from fibreglass and two-pot paint, and have a reflective, polished lustre.  Each have a distinct shade for the nut, cupule and stalk of the acorn, yet the five sculptures share a rotating colour scheme of pale yellow, teal, grey, white and duck egg blue.  I really wanted to pick one up and give it a hug 😛  Like almost all of Oh’s sculptures and installations, these are experiential and interactive: they invite a response from visitors and incite curiosity and playfulness.  Seemingly placed at random on the floor of the gallery, Oh’s works often create fascinating incidences to observe people’s behaviour and how they navigate his art.  Through readjusting the gallery space, new activities, meanings and conversations are generated by each interaction.

Seriously, just look how cute the Dottori are!

https://www.facebook.com/326072380899761/photos/pb.326072380899761.-2207520000.1414993412./350739048433094/?type=1&theater

Another delightful work by Oh, in collaboration with Jeff Nusz, is called Rain and is available to play online.  Click on the link below and tap away on your keyboard 😀

http://www.screens.org.nz/seung-yul-oh-rain/

Check out memmem before it concludes on Saturday 29th November 2014 at Starkwhite, K’Road.

M.

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