Shinduk Kang: Heaven and Earth 2023

Shinduk Kang’s artistic practice encompasses both drawing and printmaking, with significant themes rooted in Eastern philosophy. In her work, she plays with the concept of a single large structure that can be divided, rearranged, and reconstructed into new forms, a process evident across her practice as she transitions between mediums, creating variations on her core themes.

The “Heaven and Earth” series highlights Kang’s ability to deconstruct and reconfigure elements to explore new artistic possibilities, embodying the unity and transformation central to her philosophy. This series juxtaposes two sides of the cycle of life, evident in her titles such as “Earth,” “Sea,” “Land,” “Lovely,” and “From the Pure Heart,” which reference various elements and environments of the world. She uses both color and combinations of black and white to emphasize different emotions about life, with her technique of embossing sections of the printwork adding a hint of mystery and playfulness. Her colored works on paper in the same series demonstrate her layering technique, where she draws with pencils while using acrylic to cover the surface and give it more depth.

Kang’s first major museum survey in 2005 at the Gwang-Ju Art Museum in Korea began with an exhibition room showcasing her screenprints on metal mesh, while the final room was dedicated to her screenprint works on paper. Her screenprints give a similar impression to her sculptural works, expressing a rhythmic and colorful energy. Both her on-paper works draw on the theme of the expansion of life, utilizing embossing techniques to subtly integrate patterns into her backgrounds and incorporating repeated designs with various colors symbolizing different elements of nature.

In “Heaven and Earth-from a Pure Heart,” Kang uses black and white as a stripped-down version of her blooming colors to center herself and find the core of her existence. This work on paper uses large sections of negative space, minimalist colors, and an embossed construction that deepens its meaning. The subtlety of the embossed detail reflects Kang’s reserved demeanor and observational practice. These layers of meaning are accompanied by large blocks of black, shown with circular granite cutouts representing the three significant vowels in the Korean language: Sky (circle), Earth (horizontal line), and Human (vertical line). These shapes form the foundation of other vowels in the alphabet and have a philosophical strength when used altogether, symbolizing the interconnectedness of heaven, earth, and humans.

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