In this Realm

In This Realm was a 2016 exhibition curated by Michel Droge at the Maine College of Art’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine. Jung Hur’s work occupied the entire Lunder Gallery of the ICA. Following are images and Hur’s statement about this body of work.

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In this Realm: Keyhole Spotted Pigs

For many years, my paintings have included my personal symbol, a stylized pair of shapes that represents a key and keyhole. I use these symbols to activate many ideas, but one of the most obvious things they do is deny the assumption of single-point perspective. A single keyhole is a model for single-point perspective; it is like a lens. It implies several ideas: a thing, a person looking at that thing, and the perspective that defines the physical and optical relationship between them. But I rarely use simply one keyhole in my paintings. I often cover my very large canvases with them in vast clusters or grids. I tilt them so the shape becomes an oval — a circle seen at an angle. I often put varied shadows on them, and when I do, the shadows rebel against the idea of a single light source. I also switch between the key and keyhole shapes to further vary the idea and to convey the notion of Yin-Yang which formed the basis of my philosophical understanding of the world.

The fundamental point of the many keyhole symbols is the idea of multiple perspectives. In painting, switching from the assumption of single-point perspective or a universal light source to something else takes us from traditional representational painting (which uses fictional, inhabitable space — a place somewhere else imagined at the time the artist made the painting) to abstraction, if we accept the idea that abstract painting is concerned with a here-and-now perceptual and conceptual experience rather than spatial and temporal fictions.

Pigs are easily recognizable. Everyone has their own ideas about pigs. Pigs are smart and sweet. Pigs are tasty. Pigs are chauvinists. Pigs are useful: We eat most every part a pig and we even make brushes from their bristles. I recently began raising pigs. And as they become part of my life, I picture them with my symbol on them. They are spotted. The spots are symbolic; they have meaning, but they also inspire many perspectives. They have my “brand” on them, but what really interests me is how that is a public rather than a personal thing.

Yin-Yang implies the idea that perspectives are ever-changing. I like the old story of a man who drops a knife in a river, so, to remember where it is, he makes a mark on the bottom of his boat. Like seasons or daylight and so many other things, life, culture and our perspectives on them are ever-changing. Sometimes we struggle to identify fixed points in a world that is always transforming. But sometimes we can recognize the systems logic underlying our perceptions. I am more focused on process than place: How we are going often matters more than where.

Jung Hur, October 2016

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