▲ "Balance and Instability" by Boo Ji-hyun Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
To commemorate the spirit of Kim Tschang-yeul, the Jeju Kim Tschang-yeul Museum is introducing pieces from the “water drops artist” in a special exhibition titled “Water That Remembers All.” The work of nine additional artists and poet Kim Hye-soon will also be displayed.
Expanding on Kim Tschang-yeul’s water drop motif, this exhibition is constructed around the theme of water, exploring the humanistic value of this most precious liquid, and creating a space for thought about life through various mediums.
Kim Tschang-yeul’s “Recurrence”, the centrepiece of the exhibition, features a single drop of water trickling down the canvas, leaving a trail of moisture in its wake.
Kim’s hyperrealistic droplet looks like it’s ready to fall off the canvas. That single transparent globule also seems to hold something quintessential and fundamental to the essence and meaning of water.
We drink it every day. It exists everywhere, in every phase. Its liquid form covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. But how many of us really stop to think about the value of something so ubiquitous?
▲ “Serenity” by Lee Kang-so Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
Photographer Kwon Boo-moon - better known as BOOMOON - continued this exploration of H2O through his large chromogenic colour prints of glaciers and melting ice, reminding us that water has existed since the beginning of the world, and that it is in fact the source of all life.
In Moon Chang-bae’s artfully named “Time-Image”, a meticulously painted rock pool glistens in the sunlight. Stones lying calmly at the bottom of a pool seem to symbolise the bygone eras, while those above the water representative of the present. The water covering the rocks becomes an ancient life-giver, a connection between the past and the present, a profound bridge linking every living organism on the planet.
Bill Viola, who usually uses ultra-slow motion video to express fundamental themes of human consciousness and experience, explores life and death in a painterly fashion through his “Three Women".
Many times, people don’t watch videos in their entirety at art exhibitions. Viola’s videos, however - if given enough time - tell a mesmerising story that urges us to rethink our perception of the world.
In “Three Women”, three shadowy figures walk very slowly towards the screen. When they pass through the water in order of their age, they come to life, suddenly vividly colorful before returning to the world of darkness again in the same order.
▲“Into a Time Frame” by Lee Chang-min Photo courtesy Jia Min Tan
Even for the viewer who is unfamiliar with Viola’s works, you can sense that this is somehow a story of life and death and the stages of womanhood.
I was especially struck by the look of hesitation on the youngest girl’s face when it was her time to go. It reminded me of how reluctant we are to leave this life because we don’t know where we will go afterward - the mystery of the oceanic depths into which every life must sink.
Water exists everywhere, and we think it’s cheap. It’s easy to forget that all life, including humanity, wouldn’t be around without it.
Water that existed billions of years ago is still falling as rain today. Our history washes over us, connecting us regardless of space and time, remembering everything. It is both the witness of history as well as the substance of our ongoing story.
Walking out of this trip through a flow of both time and water, I felt my spirit somehow cleansed, compelled to look at the water and the world around me in a slightly different light.
"The Water That Remembers All" is being held at the Kim Chang-yeul Art Gallery until June 11, 2017.
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