One of the things I love most about going to art galleries without knowing what’s showing is that it feels like I’m on a treasure hunt: behind any gallery door, there is the possibility of finding unique creative treasures that carry inspiration and ideas.
Recently in Chelsea, I found one of these treasures. I was walking down West 25th street on a sunny Friday afternoon and popped into the DOOSAN gallery. The second I walked through the door, I was confronted by a dark, frantic, monotonous, anxious, yet simultaneously quirky and upbeat, piece of mechanical art installed directly on the gallery wall.
The work was created by Korean artist Jung Uk Yang as a part of the exhibition “A Man Without Words,” which was on view from July 9th through August 27th 2015. Per the gallery’s description, “A Man Without Words” encompassed Jung Uk’s reflections upon the everyday, simple things that would occur in both his life and the lives of the individuals around him who seemed to lead monotonous, repetitive lives.
For example, the piece, “A Fatigue Always Comes with a Dream,” (featured above and below) was created as a metaphor for the lives of apartment security guards in South Korea, who, “must stay awake until dawn while most people are asleep.” Jung Uk’s work is independently visually powerful, but the unusual story behind it makes it even more provocative than the visuals alone.
Through his work, Jung Uk provided me with an experience that ruptured the monotony of my life that day. He piqued my curiosity about DOOSAN, an incredible art space, as well. The DOOSAN Gallery New York is dedicated to the discovery of and support for young and emerging Korean artists. It also has a residency program. Its mission is to serve as a gateway to significant exposure and opportunities for the artists by nurturing their creativity and helping them share their work with a broader audience.
Learning about the South Korea-headquartered DOOSAN gallery and its mission in support of Korean creativity led me to think about it in contrast to a recent Huffington Post article I came across on my twitter feed titled, “North Korea’s Art Scene is Just as Mysterious as the Nation Itself.” In the article, writer Sara Boboltz notes that North Korea’s largest art institute, Mansudae, is government-run and is used “primarily to churn out work extolling the state’s leaders.” She concludes that, “For all the impressive skill of its talented pool of artists, artistic freedom in North Korea might only be an optimistic myth.”
It would be interesting to know what the DOOSAN gallery opines about this issue, especially within the context of the gallery’s mission to nurture the growth of Korean contemporary art. While Jung Uk Yang’s work is no longer currently on view at DOOSAN’s Chelsea space, I invite you to check out their current exhibition, Revelation, an equally inspiring solo installation featuring the work of artist Jungki Beak.