The ‘KOREAN COMPOSITION’ series (2011 - 2017) by BoYoung Jung consists of semi-abstract color compositions based on contemporary apartment floor plans in Seoul, investigating the contemporary Korean social, historical, and cultural geography.

 

 

Hand-sewn in vivid colored linen, these delicate compositions use the patchwork techniques of Jogakbo, a Korean traditional craft practice that dates back 500 years or more. Through Jogakbo’s history and language, Jung attempts to convey the contrasting overlap of self-reflections in Korean society today – one’s inherent spiritual identity and the nature of one’s immediate living environment and social conditions.

 

 

 

The first part of this series, currently ongoing, uses the 5 primary colors of Korea known as ‘Obangsaek’ (red, blue, yellow, white, black) and one added neutral color (beige-grey); each containing spatial and spiritual meanings, withdrawn from both historical and contemporary context.

 

Through these textile works, Jung is experimenting and expanding her mediums and expressions, further revealing her own artistic interests and reflections in the subjects such as the notion of home, cultural identity, history, memory, displacement, tradition and contemporary femininity.

 

Developed in parallel with her collaborative practice within the art/design duo WOLFS + JUNG, this work is largely autobiographical and personal.

 

 

| public screening @ Seoul Square 2011

 

[part II] of exhibition 'Always on My Mind : Home '

moving image public screening

@Seoul Square Media Canvas,

Nov.- Dec.2011

by Bo Young Jung

| Composition P244 2016

 

64 x 89 x 3.8 (cm) - framed dimension

linen, handstiched by Bo Young Jung

| KOREAN COMPOSITION - Obangsaek series 2011 - 2017

Growing up mostly in dense, vertical urban environments, her childhood memories are often of apartments, regularly moving from one place to another, each time adapting physically and mentally to the modern concrete structures that have come to dominate the Korean landscape. Subsequently studying, working and living in Europe and China for 10 years before returning to Seoul, Jung’s experience of cultural displacement became the basis of her reflection on the notion of home in the context of today’s deterritorialization of culture and identity.

 

In 2011 this questioning of one’s cultural identity led her to organize a multidisciplinary group exhibition entitled ‘Always on My Mind: home [jib + gohyang]’ for which she challenged herself and 20 international artists to explore the contemporary notion of home. This marked the beginning of her ‘Korean Composition’ series, the first piece was made as a set of 6 compositions ‘KOREAN COMPOSITION: 18_22_34_43_56_80’, now in the collection of M+ Museum of Visual Art, Hong Kong.

 

The title’s numbers are in reference to the various sizes of apartment floor plans in Pyeong, the traditional Korean surface unit equivalent to 3.3058m2. Typical floor plans of the 6 commercial categories XS, S, MS, ML, L, XL ranging from the purely functional 60sqm studio, to the 300sqm urban mansion are laid out, reinterpreted and offered to comparison.

| Korean Composition No. 18 2011

32.3 x 18.8 x 0.3 (cm)

linen, handstiched

by Bo Young Jung

| Korean Composition No. 22 2011

 

33.5 x 25.4 x 0.3 (cm)

linen, handstiched

by Bo Young Jung

Jung’s particular use of colors and scale is the core element of abstraction in the Korean Composition series. The Korean color spectrum of 5 primary colors known as ‘Obangsaek’ (‘Obang’ meaning ‘five directions’ and ‘saek’ meaning ‘color’) represents the 5 cardinal directions, rooted in the oriental theories of the Yin and Yang, and the Five Elements of Life. Based on the spatial and spiritual values traditionally associated with each of these colors, Jung re-defines the array of meanings through her own value systems in order to allow viewers to enter into the abstract spaces in both a traditional and an universal context. The scale of the artwork was also carefully chosen for the wall to play as a linear element of the composition, which in return inviting the reference of abstract geometric paintings of the modern era, as well as to create visual interactions between various-size compositions.

 

Traditional meanings of ‘Obangsaek’

- North (black: winter, water, sorrow, Yin)

- South (red: fire, summer, pleasure, Yang)

- East (blue: sprint, tree, birth)

- West (white: autumn, iron, righteousness)

- Center (yellow: soil, center of an universe)

 

Meanings in the colors of ‘Korean Composition’

- Yellow for living room (center of the house, communal area, where people spend most time during the day, connection of all spaces)

- Red for Kitchen and dining area (place using fire to cook, share warmth)

- Blue for bedroom (rest at night, renew ourselves)

- White for restroom (clean ourselves)

- Black for wall (block light)

- light grey as additional neutral color for spaces ‘in-between’: balcony, utility room (not fully outside nor inside, significant element of Korean traditional housing)

- Green for private garden (Composition P244)

Through this abstraction, Jung’s composition is evocative of spatial experiences and cultural memories, constructed in complex layers both conceptually and also materially.

 

Historically, Jogakbo, the Korean traditional patchwork, naturally emerged as a complimentary activity to traditional dressmaking. The geometric construction of the Hanbok produced leftover patches of scrap fabric from which women made Jogakbo trying to make the best use of the precious material, creating colorful hand-sewn textile pieces.

 

Seeing the tradition of Jogakbo more as an open-ended practice rather than a ornamental technique to be perfected and repeated, Jung sees today’s apartment floor plans to be the unlikely continuation of this Korean tradition, in its inherent spirit of making the best use of scarce material. Constantly evaluating, adjusting, adding and dividing; both compositions are the productions of countless delicate decisions, trying to get an aesthetical balance between what’s available and what people need and desire.

 

 

| Composition 59A 2016

 

58 x 54 x 3.8 (cm) - framed dimension

linen, handstiched by Bo Young Jung

| Composition 59B 2016

 

58 x 54 x 3.8 (cm) - framed dimension

linen, handstiched by Bo Young Jung

Inspired by her fond childhood memories of her grandmother making Hanbok and delicately crafting domestic items such as Jogakbo beddings and wrapping cloths, Jung self-taught the techniques of Jogakbo in order to understand, research, and re-connect with her own history, culture, and tradition. The traditional hand-stitches visible in the artworks are purposefully imperfect, inviting viewers look beyond the lines and planes, and connect to the human elements hidden in the composition.

 

This experience of the manual process of Jogakbo and using its visual language allowed her to create a juxtaposition of traditional and modern, spatial and spiritual, personal and collective memories; and also to gain access to the philosophy of this old tradition driven by the creativity and ingenuity of women: their desire for aesthetic individuality, and their self-expression within the constraints of patriarchal Confucian society.

 

Jung’s self-realization as a woman artist adds a conceptual layering to this medium of Jogakbo, known as crafts of ‘women’s quarter.’ Jogakbo making requires tranquility, time and self-meditating-like labor, all of which are scarce material for an artist who is also a mother of two young children. Although women today are not limited of outside activities like those in Joseon Dynasty, yet today’s women struggles in their efforts to realize their full potential within these hidden boundaries that still exist today.

 

| Making of 2011

 

process of Jogakbo hand stitching

Photo by Bo Young Jung

The ‘Korean Composition: 18_22_34_43_56_80’ (2011, 2015-16) currently takes part in the M+’s debut design exhibition – Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection, from 30 Nov 2016 – 5 Feb 2017 @ M+ Pavillion, HongKong.

 

| KOREAN COMPOSITION:18_22_34_43_56_80 @ M+ Museum, HongKong 2016/17

 

Exhibition view, M+ Pavillion

Photo by M+, Hong Kong

// For more about M+ and its collection:

Grand Designs by Beatrice Leanza @ Frieze.com

An interview with Aric Chen, M+ curator of architecture and design,

about his plans for the collection and revisiting historical global narratives

 

2017 © WOLFS + JUNG All Rights Reserved.