Boomoon (b.1955) is a South Korean photographer currently working in Seoul and Sokcho. Since the 1980’s he has been engaging with the natural landscape in his work as a means of self-reflection, producing large format photographs of vast expanses of sea, sky and land. Devoid of human presence, the central emphasis of his work is the experience of the infinity of nature and the representation of it’s presence.
“It is of profound importance to understand Boomoon’s capacity to create an experiential space for the viewer and allow us to embody essential vantage points upon the optical splendor and ordering of the physical world. Significantly, Boomoon’s camera perspective does not simulate an overtly human scale or optical perspective. He goes beyond being a photographer who offers us the sense of an omniscient but still human visual exploration of the world. Instead, his acute avoidance of a hyperbolic signature photographic style means that we are liberated viewers that can move into, above and beyond the natural phenomena that his camera explores, unhindered by an overbearing sense of his authorship.” - Charlotte Cotton, taken from Constellation, published by Daegu Art Museum
Boomoon’s debut UK exhibition at Flowers will comprise selected works from his series Sansu, Naksan, Northscape and On the Clouds. Sansu refers to the concept of ‘sansu’ (mountain-water) a core concept within the representation of nature in Far-Eastern aesthetics; an idea centred on the metaphysical union with nature. Boomoon’s contemporary vision of ‘sansu’ depicts Seoraksan National Park in all its graphic detail in the midst of winter. Naksan is characterised by details of crashing waves within snow covered seascapes. The vertical format photographs are dominated by a blank plane in the lower half of the image. This is where the accumulation of snow on the beach is rendered as a singular flat surface devoid of any detail, scale or perspective. Naksan takes its name from a beach on the east coast of South Korea that faces Japan.
Northscape is the title Boomoon gives to his series of Arctic landscapes made in Iceland and Greenland. These photographs focus on the crystalline purity of places where human presence would appear nothing else but alien. Connotations with the ‘North’ - coldness, isolation and silence relate to many of Boomoon’s landscapes, and to the sense of self-reflection that nature often arouses in us. On the Clouds presents a series of sky views from a plane at high altitudes. The sky is seen from eye-level as a perfectly blue band between the black of space and a blanket of thick white cloud. Referring to Boomoon’s work, the poet and critic Shino Kuraishi wrote:
‘The photographs construct an encounter for the beholders with themselves, wherever they may be, to reflect on the place they are in now, so the location is “nowhere.” Or, as was the case with On the Clouds, it is a universal “anywhere.” And, as far as the photographs deflate the self-importance of the viewer into solitude, they are always “just one place.” For me, there is only “this place.” I have no other place to be. But without it belonging to me whatsoever, I look at it, I am here.
This exhibition follows Constellation; a major retrospective of the artist’s work at Daegu Art Museum, Korea.
All images courtesy of Hakgojae Gallery.