Young-chan An, “Respirare”

The MAG Gallery and TOMO Gallery of Kyoto

Young-chan An, “Respirare”

Exhibition curated by Salvatore Marsiglione and Tomoharu Aoyama

Opening: Thursday September 8th 7.00pm at MAG in Via Vitani, 31 Como.

The exhibition will be on till October 1st 2016

Opening times: fromTuesday to Saturday 10:00am- 1:00pm and 3.00pm- 7.30pm

Info line : +39 3287521463
With the Patronage of the Association Luigi Russolo’s Archives of Como

For the first time in Italy the solo show of the famous Korean artist Young-chan An with a series of 25 absolutely original artworks, especially created for Como’s exhibition.


Young-chan An, “Respirare”

The 21st century is full of upheaval, and a lot of time has passed since globalization first rang out. In a world where nations and people have become more and more separated, as a project to connect the East and West, GALLERY TOMO and MAG feature the Korean artist, Young-chan An.

Young-chan An was born in Busan in 1959, right after the Korean War cease-fire. Having studied at Osaka University of Arts, he takes his identity from two East Asian countries with indecisive histories. After his first solo exhibition in South Korea in 1985, he has held several solo shows in South Korea, Japan, and the United States, receiving international praise for his energetic style. Indeed, he has a versatile style, with his vividly colored paintings that use traditional kanshi (Korean paper), at times using rubber as a ground. I feel as if these surfaces are like the earth where people lay down their roots. Whether with the Western canvas or East Asian kanshi or washi, among others, artists create topologies on these grounds, and we can see characteristics of each region, including the breath of those people who live there.

 Italy and South Korea are both peninsular countries and share a similar fate, having seen interventions from other countries due to their geographical locations. Namely, they share the same fundamental organization. With the development of globalization, we can say the territory of nation-states, constructed until the early 20th century, have been in the process of dismantling. This is continuing at a heartless speed. It is because of this reality that we should use the “soft power” of art to internally understand boundaries and cultural differences, which can be an important factor in helping people to co-exist.

Two years ago, I saw Nam June Paik’s traveling exhibition, “The Future is Now” at MAXXI in Rome. One of his concepts is the fusion of East and West, but there also the idea that the essential literacy needed to harmonize cultural differences cannot be attained in a day; perhaps the word “symbiosis” itself is deceitful and impossible. However, this exhibition, playing a role as cutting-edge media art from east Asia, suggested a “definition” of the future to today. Of course, we are not diplomats, but the role that our art plays and cultural exchange is necessary to understand the historical relationship between regional cultures. No doubt, our exhibition can also add to the accumulation of regional research.

“Young-chan An is an artist who walks by his own breath, at his own pace. He is a wine waiting to mature inside a barrel. But by no means is he just waiting. He is pulsating like flowing blood with intense, brilliant colors — red, yellow, and blue. Like volcanic magma, a rich sensibility and talent lies at his core, evoking his true nature. This is what drives his work.”

This may be an intuitive way of describing his work, but he is neither a printmaker nor pure painter. He is extremely free. Following the spirit of his age, he investigates the future with a sense of jest. Of his works up to now, some of the most representative are his painting of himself painting a self-portrait on top of a tree, his silkscreens, and his acrylic and oil paintings of dogs. Without being limited to a certain material, his oeuvre expands infinitely like space.

There is one concrete motif, however, that runs through all of Young-chan An’s work. In each of his works, boundary lines are painted. These lines that demarcate inner and outer can act as an entrance, but also an exit. In Buddhism, there is the idea of shujo (bahujana in Sanscrit), which means that many living things are co-existing in the same world. The boundary lines in his work represent the relationship between himself and others, and, amongst an expanding world, different dots make shapes and regions with various movements that protect him are uniquely expressed. In 2012, at an exhibition held at Art Core, Los Angeles, this stance and style was widely accepted by Americans, and the show saw excellent sales. For this exhibition, as his debut show in Italy, he has prepared completely new works. A new page has been turned, as if taking a deep breath. Here, we show the visualization of his traces, the present continuous story of Young-chan An, the artist.

Tomoharu Aoyama