Sabina Lee Gallery is pleased to present: Ik-Joong Kang: Things I Know. Extended until January 30th, 2013!
Kang says that when he gets stuck and doesn’t have any idea what to paint, he often runs the motor in his brain by simply connecting and including anything near him. He will try to include in his art whatever feels comfortable – the things he knows. In over a decade, he’s written thousands of short sentences based on his beliefs and observations of things around him. They are things that are true or could be true but there is no scientific proof that they are true. It is a process that he goes through to document moments of his life. It is a never-ending, continuous process – sleeping, eating, and painting. It awakens his awareness and also the awareness of his audience. It is Kang’s personal diary. The artist believes life is like a train ride in which people are constantly getting on and off. One may stay on for a very short time but another may stay on for the entire ride. In most of Kang’s installations, he shares stories of many friends, children and the presence of Buddha, whom he met during his journey on the train of life. The small man sitting on top of the circular structure with binoculars and a school bag is the artist himself when he was in elementary school. He carefully observes the dialogue between the train and nature and he collects words and sounds like he catches butterflies in the field for his school homework during his summer vacation.
The installation has a total of five thousand 3×3 inch wooden blocks glued to a twelve foot tall wall. The wall is built to be shaped like a half sphere. The wooden blocks are colorful English letters drawn in crayon and covered with liquid plastic to give it shine. Five hundred moon jars (a traditional Korean ceramic form) are placed on the floor facing the wall. Coming from the wall, we can hear the voice of a Korean woman who recites a translated Korean version of “Things I Know.” The artist recorded the monotone woman’s voice that resembles the announcement at a typical train station in Korea. The artist believes that ‘Our world is like a train station. No one can claim that he or she owns it. We simply come and go.’ In the middle of the gallery floor are five hundred small moon jars, which are electronically connected with five hundred small speakers via colorful electric wires. Each jar generates the sounds of nature, with birds singing, wind blowing and rain falling.
This installation at Sabina Lee gallery will be Kang’s second solo show at the gallery and the first English version of “Things I Know.” The Korean version was previously installed in large format at the Korean Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo in China. Currently, a 58-meter-long structure of “Things I Know” (in Korean) is being built as a permanent installation in the middle of the Financial Center in Yeoido, Seoul, Korea.
About the artist
Born in 1960, in Cheong Ju, Korea, Ik-Joong has lived and worked in New York City since 1984. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Kang has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris in New York. He also had a two-person show with Nam June Paik at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Connecticut. His works are in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In the summer of 1997, he was awarded The Special Merit prize in the 47th Venice Biennale.
Next year, he will be showing 160,000 children’s drawings as part of his own installation — children’s drawings he has collected over a decade. The installation will be in a 200-meter-long covered bridge that he designed in Suncheon, Korea, which will be the world’s second longest covered bridge, after one in Brunswick, Canada.