Mankind and Nature have been perceived as both interconnected and opposing forces. In the Taoist belief system, the way to know the central principle of the Universe is by living in harmony with nature. There is a gentleness and spontaneity in this return to tao, qualities which Si Jae Byun brings across in her works that render paint upon layers of silk. Silk itself is a purely natural product, comprising fibres and woven by silkworms. Si Jae mounts layers of coloured silk on canvas to achieve "an ideal balance between line and colour" (Si Jae Byun).
The artist presents a new series of works titled "Birth" which shows a fusion of natural structures and architectural elements that have roots plunging into the ground. Here, she draws parallels between nature and humanity - the struggle of a seedling to spread its roots and survive, alongside the inner conflict that individuals face in a bid to assert themselves and establish their identities; the cycles of nature and the cycles of human life; birth, death and renewal.
On the six-meter-long gallery window looking out onto the jungle of Gillman Barracks, Si Jae has created a site-specific window work. Viewers are invited to look at nature through layers of man-made materials, experiencing a similar visual effect to the layers of silk on canvases within the exhibition. Such points of connection between nature and man may seem fleeting and rare but, in the moments we recognize them, we are made aware of the sublime and complex beauty of the world we live in.
A close to two-meter-wide chandelier gives insight into Si Jae's recent research into the relationship between human functions and the classical elements of earth, wind, water and fire. The chandelier acts as a functional object within the space, providing artificial light, and substituting candlelight. In summary, this exhibition reveals how natural harmonies within the atmosphere and body are essential for the earth, and how the same elemental balances make Si Jae's artwork function.
Si Jae Byun (b. 1976, Korea) graduated from Kookmin University in Seoul, Korea with a BFA in Painting and Textiles and an MFA in New Media. In 2017, she received her second MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and served as Adjunct Professor in Fine Arts at Kookmin University/Gachon University from 2008 to 2011. She has presented solo exhibitions at Gasan Gallery, Gallery Chosun and Seo Kyo Art Center in Korea; as well as Tally Beck Contemporary and the Korean Embassy Culture Center in the USA. She won the 2017 UOB Painting of the Year Silver Award in the Established Artist Category (Singapore) and received the Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize in 2013. She has participated in artist residencies in the USA, Korea, Italy, Spain and Singapore; and her work has been collected by the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., USA.