Woolga Choi: The Play
December 20, 2018 - February 2, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 20th, 6 - 8pm
Curated by Sunny Shin
Crossing Art is pleased to announce: The Play, an exhibition of the series of artworks by Korean artist Woolga Choi. As the title suggests, these works are playful and remind us of our youth. In these works, Choi captures scenes of contemporary life in a metropolis and imbues them with a joyful nostalgia for our youth. The scenes the Woolga creates are full of action and whimsy that are representations of Choi’s life in the various cities he has inhabited, including: Paris, Seoul and New York.
Stylististically, these works display abstracted forms that present the essence of the world in which Choi lives. The thick lines and abstract forms are reminiscent of cartoons and graffiti, artforms full of dynamism and humor. Choi applies these playful aspects to his works made primarily in oil paint. Choi is not preoccupied with the illusion of space in his paintings; there is no sense of depth in this series. Instead he creates tangible space. He builds up a thick layer and scraps away excess. Not only does this technique reinforce his graphic style, but it also creates a heavily textured surface. Choi applies stickers to the painted surface to enhance the dynamic qualities of space. They are domed variety and filled with cartoon animals and hearts. These underline the playful attitude of his style that makes the viewer yearn for a simpler time.
But upon closer inspection, the paintings are more than nostalgic. These contemporary interiors are filled with familiar, and not-so-familiar, objects. Overhead lamps are a common element that help set the scene; but these lamps often have an eye that observes all the chaos happening below. Figures overlap and crowd into each other to create this sense of chaos. Choi fills in the negative space with parallel lines so that there are even fewer places for your eye to relax. The wolf is ubiquitous in Choi’s work. He includes the animal not only in his paintings, but has translated it into sculpture as well. No matter the medium, this wolf is meant to represent the artist, himself. Every element of this series adds a layer of symbolism and is meant to reflect the vibrancy of city living.
Woolga Choi grew up in Busan, Korea and spent several years studying art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. Today he is primarily based in New York and Seoul; but he draws on his experiences across the world for his works. Choi had his first solo exhibition in 1979 and since has exhibited extensively within Korea, as well as internationally in prominent galleries, museums, and art fairs throughout Tokyo, New York, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Kyoto, Shanghai and Chicago. The Play series is an excellent example of the artist’s signature style of work.