Hus Gallery is pleased to present Floating Perspectives, a solo exhibition of painted works by Korean artist Seung Ah Paik. Interested in the convergence of traditional theories and styles of Korean portrait and landscape art with contemporary art practices, Seung Ah creates self-portraits that explore how painting can be used to materially express the experience of the self. Painted from the point of view of what the artist can see with her own eyes, Seung Ah subtly combines images of her body taken from diverse perspectives so that her paintings become slightly uncanny, fragmented representations of herself. Floating Perspectives focuses on Seung Ah’s large-scale, multi-panelled installation entitled Autolandscape (2012-13), as well as a number of smaller works on canvas from her Voluntary Self-Confinement (2007-09) series.
Influenced by the loose washes of traditional Oriental brush painting, specifically that of the Korean Joseon Dynasty, Seung Ah dilutes her pigment with water and rabbit skin glue until it resembles a glaze, allowing the underlying charcoal drawings to remain visible beneath the layers of paint. The meticulously observed depiction of bodily ‘imperfections’ in her works, such as calloused feet or the blue-green veins visible beneath the skin, are honest observations which are usually reserved for oneself or one’s intimate relations. These corporeal details are manipulated and amplified to reflect the artist’s perception of self-image, and should therefore be viewed as highly personal offerings rather than as accurate renditions of the artist’s form.
The brightly coloured works from the Voluntary Self-Confinement series depicts the body in various states and positions of containment. Unlike the more recent un-stretched and multi-panelled works, these paintings present the body in a more unified, complete way. The curved back, bowed head, and bent limbs featured in these paintings, communicates a tension that is confirmed by their titles: for instance, Anxious, Shame, Infatuate, and Reflected. Translated from Chinese characters, these names all describe a mental or physical state of being that calls upon the viewer’s empathy.
In Autolandscape, Seung Ah depicts her body as a reconstructed object rather than as direct self-representation. By magnifying and cropping sections of her body across the four panels, Seung Ah deviates from the single, authoritative viewpoint in favour of a shifting or floating perspective, and in doing so establishes a sense of perpetual movement. By combining familiar corporeal proximity with visual fragmentation, Seung Ah encourages the viewers to align themselves with the painted figure, as if looking down at their own body. Whilst her delicate layering of pigments suggests the colour and texture of her own skin, the formal composition is a visual description of the landscape of her body, complete with a detailed depiction of its physical substance. By carefully navigating the line between the documentary and the figurative, Seung Ah is able to represent the naked body with startling honesty without entering into the realm of voyeurism.
Seung Ah Paik was born in Seoul, South Korea. She studied at Seoul National University where she completed her BA in Oriental Painting, before going on to complete an MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2012, Seung Ah won the Signature Art Prize for painting, and was also shortlisted for the Chadwell Award in the same year. Seung Ah has had solo exhibitions with Jubilee Gallery, Nagoya, Japan (2013), Lubomirov-Easton, London (2013), Noam Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2009), and Hus Gallery, London (2014). Participation in group exhibitions include Hwaga: Saueechanmi, Hanwon Gallery, Seoul (2014), A Soldier’s Tale, Asia House, London (2013), and The New Form and Spirit, Gallery Gaia, Seoul, Korea (2007). Selected publications include: Kim Hong Ki. Dandy, Lives Today. Seoul: Artbooks, 2014, and Nine and Paik Seung Ah, Humming and Drawing. Seoul: Somo, 2010.