Bahk Seong Ghi, born in 1966 in Seoul, Korea, is known for his large scale sculptures in charcoal, stainless steel and wood. He received his masters degree in Chung-Ang University, majoring in Sculpture at the Fine Arts Department in Seoul before continuing his training as a sculptor at the Accademia di Belle Arti Brera, in Milan, Italy. Bahk began working with charcoal in 1980s where he created mid-relief sculptures suspended from nylon filaments, capturing everyday objects and simple geometric shapes based on architectural sketches. As a child, Bahk Seon Ghi was always fascinated by the elements of nature such as wind, mountains and trees. Finding these hard to incorporate into his artwork as materials, he chose charcoal as a symbolic representation of a tree reborn. The charcoal also paradoxically exhibits the end of a tree's life thus shedding light on the cyclic properties of nature and the transience of life.
In the desire to incorporate both man and nature and their mutual relationship, the artist chooses to depict his artwork in architectural styles. By depicting essential architectural elements such as pillars, staircases and arches with his natural materials, he poetically showcases the delicate balance and connection between man and nature. It also represents the overarching presence of nature and how its influence lies behind every work of man.
With a nuanced poetic sensibility, a key theme in the artist's oeuvre ahs been exploring the three-dimensional nature of sculpture as well as the dual viewing of both the properties of his material and the ultimate shape that is perceived by the viewer. He wishes to eliminate the property of the material as a separate view and focuses on emphasizing the materiality in the poetic shapes that are created. He thus carefully constructs his pieces to represent the shape and in doing so, highlights the material itself. This is especially be seen by the deliberate spacing between each piece of charcoal. Each piece is thus individualistic but ultimately comes together as a whole form.
The monochromatic nature of his material also makes for interesting plays with lighting and space; by allowing the natural black of the charcoal to suspend within deliberately left spaces and white backgrounds, the artist evokes different emotions and feelings. The predominant black may induce negative or morose emotions but the constant infiltration of light and white space brings in a balancing element. The two conflicting perceptions signify the connection between life and death stressed by the choice of material. The spaces also add weightlessness to the piece and make it seem as if it is ethereal and transient- three dimensional but still not completely solid.
Bahk Seon Ghi’s unique work is replete with significance and subtle meaning. He endeavors on his quest to depict nature’s intricacies and bring man closer to the ideas of rebirth, recycling and the transience and delicacy of everything around him. His works carry not only aesthetic appeal but profound meaning; this along with their powerful appeal on emotions and the extremes of life and death, make them not just pieces of great art, but philosophical masterpieces.
Seoul Living Design Fair, Coex Exhibition Center, Seoul, Korea
Art Stage Singapore,Marina Bay Sands Exhibition Center, Singapore
Korea Tomorrow, CETEC, Ilsan, South Korea
My Room my Atelier, Gana Art Center, Seoul, Korea
G20 Seoul Summit Celebration Exhibition for Korean Fine Arts, The National Assembly Library and Shuim Museum, Seoul, Korea
MACO 10, Mexican International Contemporary Art Fair, Centro Banamex, Mexico City, Mexico
Kim Chong Yung Sculpture Prize, Kim Chong Yung Sculpture Museum, Seoul, Korea
Korea Tomorrow 09, SETEC, Seoul, Korea
Against the Sculptural: Three Dimensions of Uncertainty, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
Korean Eye: Moon Generation, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Shanghai International Art Fair, Gallery Artside, Shanghai, China
ARCO International Art Fair, Madrid, Spain
Kim Chong Yung Sculpture Museum, Seoul, Korea
Let a Thousand Flowers, Gana Insa Art Center, Seoul, Korea
Arquitectos de Cordova, Cordova, Spain
ACAF NYAsian Contemporary Art Fair, Gallery K.O.N.G, New York, USA
Art Fair Singapore 07, Suntec City, Singapore
Galeria Arte Contemporanea Jorge Shirley, Lisbon, Portugal
The Way of Viewing Objects, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
Artist of Today 05, Kim Chong Yung Sculpture Museum, Seoul
Portugal Seoul Art Fair Gana Art Center, Hangaram Museum, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, Korea
Endless Enumeration in the Space: Fiction of Fabricated Image and Nature's End
Art has become more difficult to do and interpret over the years. My recent work highlights the relationship between culture and nature. Culture is the civilized world where human beings seek convenience, whereas nature is the state naturalized by a dispensation of the universe that is far from man's strength. It is the relationship between man and nature that naturally derives from the relation of culture and nature. The relationship between man and nature has been strongly expressed in my work. Human architecture is chosen to represent culture, and to represent nature, charcoal, the last appearance of trees that stand with us in the world, is chosen. Why? It is a self-evident truth that I can think of a great number of meaning and forms, because architectural structures are meant to be useful while charcoal is one of last appearances of nature.
I think it is wrong if western materialized culture dictates what man thinks. I think that man is no more a different object than a tree that exists in nature, so that it is inevitable that man should co-exist with nature without tilting his balance either way in the relationship of man and nature. How do you see nature - concealed behind a history of splendid civilization built by modern man. My work is thus based on this premise. Strongly presented are the structures of nylon strings that are very subtle, light and nearly transparent. In the space, the nylon gives off lumps of charcoal that represent energy in nature and symbolize its vanishing into the air. This structure expresses the fiction of fabricated images as a concept against modern utility.
To me, charcoal reveals a field of nature, concealing the fact that charcoal is what remains of a tree after it has been burned down. Eventually, charcoal is the material out of which my works derive their effect. In the end, charcoal becomes a brick that forms a building. As time passes, that which is manifested in my work becomes transformed into a simple and light material. Hanging sculptures are a poetic expression of the melding of nature and architecture, and the irresistible lightness of an art piece.