Korean sculptor, Park Seung Mo, who received his degree in Fine Arts at Dong A University in Korea in 1998, creates giant ephemeral portraits by cutting layer after layer of wire mesh. Each work begins with a photograph which is superimposed over layers of wire with a projector, then using a subtractive technique Park slowly snips away areas of mesh. Each piece is several inches thick as each plane that forms the final image is spaced a few finger widths apart, giving the portraits a certain depth and dimensionality.
Exploring of being real and being existent from the Zen perspective
Sculpture of Park Seung-Mo
Kim Jong-Gill / Art Critic
"An object clashes another one and has its shell broken; and the contents get dissolved and transformed into a soft protoplasm ready to receive new forms and structures. The cedar and the flames, two objects flow and get changed into abstract ones. Seen from the world which is neither metaphor nor a poem, these objects represent the whole in itself, a terminal and an object of our consciousness. " -excerpts from Dehumanization of Art
Question: Are you real! Are you existent! (Excerpt)
Park seung-mo does not translate an object into a sculpture just the way it is. This is neither the meditation on the human existence by a human being just like Rodin's, nor a modern formal beauty which has to do with the inner nature of an object; and this is not looking for the essence of existence whose denotation no longer exists like Giacometti, either. The object of 'functionality' is a model, an object which establishes a form whose practicality is maximized by a human being and the aura of the contour of the object is sought after from the aesthetic point of view.
Where the sculpture of Park seung-mo is understood and completed in the tradition of western philosophy doesn't seem to be far away from that of mimesis. This is because, as mentioned above in relation to 'deconstruction and subversion', it is necessary to put an end to the concept of deconstructionism and simulacre of Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Jean Baudrillard. Then, it is also needed to make clear the aura of 'Zen' surrounding his sculpture. Zen is to indicate directly what is existent. The question of 'what is this?' becomes enlightened through such an answer as 'this is a flower!' The moment of verification of the existence of truth leads to enlightenment. Here is an episode. A Zen priest stumbled over a stone on his way to the toilet. At the very moment, he felt pain and the 'pain' became apparent. And now, he realized. He saw 'pain' as a reality of Zen. After, he saw flowers, the moon, trees, the universe and Buddha. He realized that the flowers are 'me', the trees are 'me' and the whole universe is 'me'. That is, Buddha is 'me'. Park seung-mo names the bike, a bike; the rocking chair, a rocking chair. Through his work which turns the reality into existence, he meditates on the question of 'what is this?'. But, there is no entity asking 'what is this?'. This question of the absence of an entity forms the shape his works. The bike is not a bike and Buddha is not Buddha. The plow is not a plow and the kettle is not a kettle. <The Thinker> of Rodin is not a thinker. Then, where is the reality?
Exerpt from Experience: seeing an illusion of mandala (Excerpt)
He traveled to India in the mid 1990s and spent nearly 5 years there practicing meditation and ascetic exercises. The experience influenced significantly his life and his art world. This was not about the meditation practicing in an tightly enclosed space such as a temple or a cavern; this was the active practicing of meditation on the road, which was a process of overcoming the ceaseless fear of the world; this was also a moment of witnessing how the absolute value of art and the completion of beauty can be dismantled in vain. He also confronted the reality of the self which he longed for all the while. This is not to exaggerate to say that he became awaken to 'enlightenment', rather the fact that he clung to a question and explored the abyss of life and finally encountered the inner essence could provide an important clue to the understanding of his works. ..
"At the Osho Rajneesh Meditation Center, there is a healing room for those afraid of the dark. Deep underground, there are rooms. The deeper you go underground, the darker it becomes. When reaching the last room, it becomes pitch dark. There, you have to stay two hours. The dark will not open itself to you. The moment of giving up the expectation of seeing the dark soon, the dark overwhelms you. That is what death is all about and also the moment of encountering of the self seized with fear. That is to encounter the self that he himself threw out of him." -Gigeon Culture & Art, page 58, Volume 172, 2005, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation Publishing. Co.
-excerpts from an article of Park seung-mo on his experience at the Osho Rajneesh Meditation Center
To find the reality of 'the dark' in the dark with no glimmer of light is to encounter 'the self'. In the dark, you can not tell whether you are on the ground, lying or standing. The absolute silence and closed space unleash an imagination which is so overwhelming that it makes your whole body sweating. This is so dominating that you are obsessed with the thought of it collapsing suddenly and fear that you will not survive anymore being trapped in the dark. You feel like vomiting and want desperately to hang on to anything. Probably, this is what people say 'life runs amoke'. How can't it be otherwise when confronting death and the dark? The enormous fear starts disappearing as you find the reality of the dark and the self. Oh, goodness, this is the dark! This is fear! This is me who is fearful! This moment of awakening, all the evil spirits vanish in a moment. And serenity takes their place. This is the state of tranquility where there is no life nor death. This experience helped Park seung-mo to overcome the fear of 'the dark' that plagued him for so long. He used to sleep at night with lights turned on, but no more.
Molding : grasping the reality of illusion (Excerpt)
However, what should be seen at the completion of imitation which is void of reality? This is the irony and essence of his work. Something which can be found everywhere, yet, cannot be seen clearly - 'ego' of every object and 'ego' of mine. He put the reality of 'ego' into an empty plastic mass. Being existent is not important. What I can touch, see and feel is not the only thing that is important. Such as he acquired serenity in the dark, he is trying to verify the reality of an object through making the reality of 'the dark' into being. That is, externally, his sculpture shows the outer aura of an object; yet, internally, it is the mind and the dark of the object. To prevent the awakening from getting lost, he hangs on to the reality and creates a mandala on the surface of the mass. The only difference here is that he uses aluminium rather than powdered stone.
The aluminium coil on the surface of the work indicates the trace of long hours of toil. The elaborate coiling starting from one point to the completion resembles the process of mandala being produced. He is very meticulous and completely devotes himself to the work. In appearance, it looks pretty decorative. It is appealing. It has been molded quite well. However, we need to think about 'the planning of Park seung-mo' as we do with 'the planning of Magritte'. Magritte's work has 'a mysterious moving force while not referring to a pipe picture for a real picture; and not referring to a pipe picture for a letter picture'. He makes sure that 'they are not the illusion or replica of 'a real pipe' but that they are the illusion or replica which have their own existence. That is how he plans 'the birth of illusionary being in the twisting'. Park seung-mo adds an eastern speculation to the planning. This way, he completes the mandala of his own.
2010: "Linear Utmost: Park Seung Mo Solo Exhibition",Taipei
2009: "Korean Eye Moon Generation", London
2008: "Park Seung Mo Solo Exhibition", Seoul
2007: "ACAF", New York; "Lines in Space", Kyunggi Gyeonggi-do
2006: "Shanghai Art Fair", Shanghai