Sun Koo Yuh Exhibit
Ink and Brush on Rice Paper
by James Armstrong for whitehot, New York
The work of Sun Koo Yuh is constantly in flux rather than remaining stationary and inert on a canvas. The head of a dog depends on a man for survival in one piece while figures are stacked on top of one another providing a very sequential view of the world.
His work is composed of porcelain that is uniquely glazed in a manner that took the artist many trials to perfect. The final product reveals rich, vibrant hues of green, yellow, red and brown which run down the faces of the characters involved in his story. The streaks of color make the figures involved look ancient and at the same time brand new, in a stark contrast.
The most intriguing aspect of the porcelain characters he has created is that the entire piece is sculpted in one form. At first look, you will think that the characters have been glued together to create the winding narrative of the final product. Yet, Mr. Yuh has gone to painstaking efforts (in what once again surely must have taken many trials) to produce his porcelain sculptures in one single piece. This interconnecting of each character, object and pedestal is a truly remarkable feat which could have only been completed by someone with extreme levels of patience and concentration.
First he starts by making ink and brush drawings on rice paper to gain inspiration for the sculptures. Each drawing begins to tell a story of what the artist is thinking, but there is only so much that can be explained with a single drawing. While they lead the artist to his true vision, they lack the complexity and sheer will of his sculptures.
The translation from drawing to sculpture is evident and impressive. After creating the mold and carving away at its surface, he adds numerous glazes of different colors to bring chaos and disorientation to the figures that were once still. This sense of life and movement is enhanced even more once the piece goes through the firing process. Colors run together in a completely random nature, but the artist has a definite understanding of where they may end up. The result melds darkness with beauty while transcending the melancholy of his drawings. But where did these initial inspirations come from?
Gallery owner, Nancy Margolis said that upon speaking with Mr. Yuh he was calm and quiet, but spoke of early emotional turmoil between him and his father. It seems that his father actually rejected the idea of him turning into a professional baseball player. With his dream relinquished he turned to the military which gave him structure for three years and upon his departure, inspired him to be an artist.
Luckily for us, the Korean born Yuh has turned his drive of being a professional athlete towards his art and we are able to see what goes on inside his head rather than the mechanics of his fastball.
Sun Koo Yuh’s first New York solo exhibition will be at the Nancy Margolis Gallery until March 3rd. For more information on the artist visit www.nancymargolisgallery.com
James Armstrong is a tired old hack who lives in Manhattan.view all articles from this author