Shinduk Kang: Heaven & Earth
Tenri Cultural Institute of New York, NYC
Shinduk Kang's art is a breath of fresh air. The colors, materials, and techniques she employs are clean, ageless, and fine. There is a festiveness, and a reverence too, for the things she makes, while her focus is keen and sharp, making her art bold in a very easily absorbed way. The main gallery at Tenri is lined, floor to 14-foot-high ceiling, with a patchwork of silky, translucent fabric that is generally used in making the inner slip of traditional clothing (Han Bok). The use, or reuse of these lightweight and durable fabrics also refers to another tradition in Korea, of using off cuts of fabrics as gift wrapping (POJaGI).
The colors she uses for this stitch work are the colors of royalty, festive and bright. By using these colors, the artist means to bring a sense of royalty to all. This backdrop, which is like a Mondrian-designed curtain, somehow amplifies the softness Kang gets with her roughly cut granite that graces the corners of the gallery. Here we see interlocking stones that gracefully curve and connect as if formed by natural occurrences, while her way of tooling the surface of the material is mesmerizing and meditative, like the small, repetitive curves of an unstill sea. From these magnetic forms, you move to her print work: hand-colored etchings on paper that key on her interest in stone with rhythmic compositions and positive energy. They reminded me of the jazzy record album covers from the 1950s that used bold patches of color that teetered and bopped.
Down the side of the main gallery towards the front window of Tenri are five silkscreen prints on metal mesh banners that hang one in front of the other from the ceiling. These shiny veils covered with simple, automatic writing type forms further enhance the celebratory effect of all the work. Near by, another silken fabric hangs from floor to ceiling in a tight spiral enclosure of bright yellow and red, like a column of pure sunlight. Move inside this inviting form and your sense of touch and sight will focus your thoughts on body and mind. The one thing that Kang offers that I would have eliminated from this particular exhibition was the use or placement of the video animation on the ceiling of the various shapes and materials she employs. It's redundant. The connection to the heavens is already there.