Korean artist Chun Kwang-Young’s residency at STPI celebrates a defining moment in three-dimensional paper making. STPI paper casts reflect Chun’s fascination with his Korean heritage as well as Western art. His series Aggregation, begun in the 1990s and inspired by Chun’s childhood, is composed of thousands of triangular wedges wrapped in centuries-old Korean mulberry paper. The triangles are reminiscent of the bundles of herbal medicine wrapped in mulberry paper that could be found in his family-run pharmacy. Upon his arrival to STPI in 2005, Chun saw the endless possibilities in the paper mill. He approached Master Papermaker, Richard Hungerford with an idea to translate Aggregation into paper casts with more sculptural formations and in greater complexity. After four years of experimentation and refinement, the resulting works are groundbreaking, characterised by a monochromatic and physically complex sculptural narrative.
Chun’s works are both complex and challenging. His rocky landscapes, filled with crevices and chasms, produce a highly composited surface that defines his work. However, the artwork’s multiple facets, jutting angles of both horizontal and vertical planes and exterior detail are all obstacles for the physical nature of sculpted paper, because its increased depth defies paper pulp as a casting material.
Together with Hungerford, the two experimented with ways to realise a physical presence and weight to these monochromatic reliefs by singling out the surface texture. One way was to lift the characters, out of the paper onto the sculptural surface. With the interaction of light, the elevated characters give the texture and detail needed to transform the work into a visual composition that is of equal intensity and complexity as his works from the studio.
The challenges of creating Chun Kwang-Young’s works can only be met at STPI. This project pushed the current staff at STPI into making art out of paper, giving them an opportunity to turn an artist’s concept into reality.